My grandma’s house isn’t the fanciest place in the world. Nor is it the most comfortable.
There are potted plants everywhere. Knickknacks cover every available surface. Family photos are on every wall and a Bible is on every table. It’s definitely a grandma house.
But according to my kids, you would think it was the Promised Land.
On their calendars, they mark off the days until we leave on our trip for North Carolina. They give me an update every single morning until the day finally comes when they can “pack.”
I handle the clothes – otherwise we’d show up for our 2-week stint at my grandmother’s house with three swimsuits, a scarf, some mismatched socks and a tutu. But the girls are in charge of their own “car trip bags” (curtailed by a 6 toy/book limit since things got out of control on our last trip and there was nowhere in our van to put feet.)
Once we hit the open road, the girls practice their “southern.” They start saying things they aren’t normally allowed to say, like: “Hey, ya’ll ain’t gonna eat the last potata che-ip. Now pass ‘at bag back 'ere right now. You wutn' sposed to eat ‘em all! If I’da knowed ‘at, I’da popped ya one!”
(Sometimes I don’t realize what my accent must sound like to non-southerners – then I hear my own voice being channeled and I can barely understand myself!)
After a long trip (tunnels and bridges and rest stops, oh my), we pull across the county line and the girls yell, “We are here! We are in North Carolina!”
Their excitement is contagious. My homecoming, though, is made complete only by the smell that greets us: chicken litter (also known as chicken poop.) A great fertilizer, it’s spread over the fields of the farming communities of my home county. I’ve seen many a farmer take a deep whiff of that awful smell and then say, “Ahhh… smells like money to me!”
Funny, it smells like home to me.
Once we drive through town (four stoplights and take a right), we descend upon my grandma (known as Great Grandma to my kids and pronounced “Great Gramaw.”
To her delight we proceed to cram ourselves (all six of us) into her little 3-bedroom house. She likes to sleep in her recliner, so that leaves us with one on the couch, one on the double bed in the main bedroom, two in the double bed in the guest room, one on a pallet (a big piece of foam topped with lots of blankets and pillows) in the extra room and one in the pack-in-play in the master bathroom.
Yes, my child sleeps in the bathroom. Hey, it’s better than a closet. Sort of.
And anyway, they wouldn’t care if they had to sleep in the bathtub. They are finally here and they are surrounded by cousins, swimming pools, pots of pinto beans, golf cart rides, cornbread, BoBerry biscuits, uncles, aunts, and grandparents. They are surrounded by hugs and kisses and stories and memories – old ones and new ones.
I am proud that they are proud to be half southern – right down to their deep-fried roots.
At Great Grandma’s house, we are sheltered by the Blue Ridge Mountains, by the mimosas and magnolias, by the red dirt banks on the sides of the road. But we are sheltered here by something more.
Somehow, no matter where you’re from or how old you get, you always feel safe, loved and at home when you’re at your grandma’s house.
No wonder they count the days until we get here.