My Favorite House

I always drive by my grandparents old house when I’m in Minnesota. My grandpa built it for he and my grandma shortly after they adopted my dad in the late 1950’s. My grandma was one of my very best friends, so I spent a lot of time there when I was a kid.

Layla_Palmer_Lettered_Cottage

That’s me (on Easter in 1977) hunting for Easter eggs in the front yard. My grandma’s bedroom was on the other side of that black-shuttered window. She had two twin-sized beds in there. One for me, and one for her. When I stayed over night, we each stretched an arm out between the our beds so that we could hold hands as we fell asleep. I don’t remember my arm ever falling into the side of my bed though, so I’m guessing she waited for my arm to feel heavy, and then got up and out of bed to gently place it by my side. I sure wish I could ask her about that. Did she put my arm by my side on top of the covers? Did she tuck it under the covers? Did she kiss my forehead? I wonder about those things whenever I think about her.

I dream about being inside that house all the time these days. Do you do that? Dream about being in your childhood homes? I don’t always remember who is in the dream with me, but when I wake up, I swear, it feels like I was really there. They’re so vivid. I can see every room, as clear as a bell.

I decided to take a chance and write the folks who live in my grandparents old house the day we left to start driving to Minnesota a couple of weeks ago. Why not, right? I asked if it would be okay to swing by the house while we were in town. I included a copy of the photo above, and told them that my grandpa built the house- hoping they might recognize his name. (He built all but three of the houses on that cul-de-sac.)

Grandma_Letter

I also included my blog and email addresses, and wouldn’t you know it, the second day we were in Minnesota, I got an email from the current owners. They said yes!

We drove to the house the very next day, and although it’s painted yellow and white now, it looks almost exactly like it did back when my grandparents lived there.

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Stepping inside the (original) front door was surreal. Seeing my grandpa’s woodwork in pristine condition brought the biggest smile to my face! We forgot to bring our DSLR in, but I did snap a few photos with my cell phone while we were there:

1960_Foyer_House

Grandma used to set up the most beautiful Christmas tree in front of the window above. And I remember the carpet being a tightly-woven, off-white color…with a subtle scroll pattern in it. I can’t remember what she used to keep in that little cabinet, but what a great little place to hide tray tables these days, huh?

The first floor bathroom was such a treat to see, too. The super-soft harvest gold carpeting is gone, but I was delighted to find the original custom cabinets & fixtures in there…

1960_Bathroom

(The linoleum, shower, wallpaper, and tile are all new additions.)

I was equally ecstatic when I discovered the custom cabinets and countertops my grandpa built were also in perfect condition in the kitchen, and the den still sported it’s original wall panelling and fireplace…

1960_House

(The linoleum in the kitchen is new.)

I had to really choke back my emotions when Kevin started playing one of the new homeowner’s guitars down in the basement. I met Kevin in 2003, so he never got to meet my Grandma, but I think about how much she would have loved him all the time.

1960_Basement

The trees on the “island” out front have been trimmed up from the ground quite a bit, but it was so fun to soak it up and think about all the times we played together out there.

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I must have walked around that thing 500 times with my Grandma, and my dad said they used to play baseball on it when he was little.

It was one of the coolest experiences ever, and I’m so thankful the new owners were open to the idea of having us over for a visit!

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They were a very friendly couple, and even invited us to stop by with our little one in the future. My grandparents are the inspiration behind my heart for adoption, so I can’t wait to bring sweet baby P to the home they built together!

Have you ever visited a home from your childhood?

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Comments

  1. Laurie says

    Thank you for this beautiful post Layla — one of my favorites! It brought tears to my eyes recalling kindnesses from my own childhood and praying I will someday be that sort of grandmother. I love how you often take time in your blog to share treasured memories of simple, tender moments or nostalgic finds. Your grandmother sounds like she had a very gentle and kind way — you seem the same way! Gentleness and kindness are so beautiful and are often forgotten in this world… thank you for all the lovely reminders of them in your blog! What a reminder of God’s grace and kindness that you were able to see your grandfather’s original woodwork in their old home all these years later and can show your little sweetpea the photos! : ) Love the adorable 1970s Easter photo.

  2. teresa says

    That is the sweetest post ever! I have tears, of course! Thanks, L, for the sweet trip down memory lane. And, yes, I dream of the house from my childhood, my grandparents home and times spent there!

  3. Amanda says

    I know you are not likely a country music lover, but have you heard the song The House That Built Me by Miranda Lambert? You must listen to the lyrics . It sent chills down my spine the first time I heard it and this post made me think of it. I also have such fond memories of my childhood home and my grandparents’ homes.

  4. S says

    Yes! I visited my childhood home just last month. I didn’t write a letter in advance, but I should have. I didn’t know til the last minute whether I’d have the nerve to even knock on the door, but I did! And got to walk around the outside of the house and peek into some of the windows. I didn’t get invited inside, but it didn’t even matter. :) Funny how small everything looks now, in my memories, everything looks so HUGE!

  5. Amy O'Shields says

    I just had to go get a tissue and wipe my tears. My husband and our 9 year old have always lived in my Grandparents home. One was a 100 year old farmhouse that we lived in until our son was 4 then we moved into their newer home when he turned 4. Grandaddy passed away and Grandma moved into a retirement home. We are moving out this house late Summer since my Grandma has passed. My Grandma was my BFF and I’ve always felt a special connection to them by raising my kids in their houses. It will sadden me to leave but we have had such great memories . I know your Grandma is looking down on you and smiling :)

  6. Bobbi says

    A couple weeks after reading this, we were at a neighbors funeral when a man and woman approached us, not knowing them, they explained they grew up in our house! We were chatting about it, and despite being in the midst of some remodeling and it not being perfectly spotless, I invited them to come over (my hubby’s eyes wide knowing the mess at home). I explained we are working on the house, and they we so excited and said they didn’t care {which I really think they didn’t mind the mess} It was such a great experience catching up and hearing about it, as their grandparents lived her before their parents! So much history learned about our old farmhouse! Thanks for the post on this or I may not have offered for them to come out! Blessings to you!

  7. Karen W. says

    I feel you- my husband and I just bought the house my Grandpa built in 1947. My Grandma passed away 27 years ago, and my Grandpa passed 2.5 years ago. They each passed in their sleep in this house. I have spent every Christmas of my life in this home, and that will continue to be the case :-) We just moved in 3 weeks ago and it has been an absolute joy to have the honor of living here and giving it the TLC it needs. So, so many wonderful memories…

  8. says

    I was raised in the house my dad and grandfather built together. We were all suppose to live together – four of us (mom, dad, my brother and myself) and my two grandparents. It was a two bedroom, one bath home – but it was so special. Two weeks after we all moved in my grandfather passed away from a heart attack. However, my family and my grandmother lived in that house my entire childhood. A few years after my dad passed away, my mom remarried and sold my childhood home to a friend – who ended up being my husband! When we got married he sold the house to his oldest daughter who still lives in it today. It has been through several renovations – some my dad made, some my husband made, and a couple that my step-daughter’s family has made – including a new kitchen and turning half the front porch into a third bedroom – but it still only has one bath. It is amazing to walk back into that house and know all the love that those walls have seen – and to know that my dad and papa would be so happy that “family” was still there!

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