I have an unhealthy obsession with furniture. Not just any furniture but a desk. A beautiful wood desk that belonged to my grandmother.
I should back up.
On the MSN Message Boards today poster berkgal33 mentioned seeing an elderly neighbor searching for recycling in order to earn money for groceries. I found myself very grateful for the frugal living example my grandparents set for me. I write this at my grandmother’s desk. A beautiful solid wood desk that my grandma used to pay bills, plan vacations and take care of her family.
This desk represents my grandma’s independence as a working woman providing for her family while my grandfather was away on trucking runs. It represents the place where she paid the bills, sent money to savings and wrote birthday cards to us grandkids.
My grandparents drove sensible cars, they had to be sensible to haul four kids from Oklahoma to California and back during the summer. They took sensible vacations, usually home to visit the family, bunking with cousins and aunts, staying in small motels along the way. A “true vacation” was camping in a tiny camper trailer and later a motorhome. There were no boat rentals and jet skis, just a tin fishing boat and lots of fish. My grandparents have lived in this town for over 45 years, bought this house over 30 years ago. They didn’t trade up but made this house what it is today through a process of slow renovations paid in cash when they could afford it.
I have pictures of my mom in this backyard, pregnant with me. I have pictures of myself crawling in the kitchen, learning to walk in the driveway and recovering from chickenpox swimming in the bathtub. Entertainment for us grandkids consisted of PBS, thift store stuffed animals, a sprinkler and dominos. With the park just blocks away we had full access to the swings, slides and plenty of room to run.
My grandparents have never been on an international vacation or travelled the world though they certainly had the savings to do so on occasion. They were content to see their family as much as possible, raise children and grandchildren with modest means and provide us with scholarships to school, old cars to drive and enough love to fill a lifetime.
Last year when my grandmother returned from their lunch at the senior citizen’s center she told me with great excitement about the cruise advertised for retired folks. As much as I love that my grandparents have the savings for their care for the rest of their lives and will never have to scrounge for plastic bottles to recycle to get by, I truly wish they had taken a vacation together, maybe even a cruise, to celebrate their accomplishments. But mostly I wish that Alzheimer’s Disease had not taken grandma’s prime of life away and made such a trip an impossibility.