Saturday, September 30, 2006

Sweet, Sweet Memories

I will be leaving next week to visit an aunt in Phoenix. My mother, another aunt, and I will be accompanying my grandmother on this trek west. Probably not anything unusual but we are very nervous about it as my grandmother was diagnosed two years ago with Alzheimer’s disease. We aren’t sure how the trip will go – she no longer adapts well to change. She knows we are going on vacation and is very excited – we’re just not sure she understands how we are getting there. So – family has been on my mind lately.

Family is very important to me and they always come first – although they might complain that work does. So, when I find text that makes personal connections I am thrilled. I can share it with others to model where authors get their ideas and to show that we can write about even the smallest things. I recently found a new mentor text for me courtesy of my nieces Scholastic Book Club.

The Hello, Goodbye Window by Norton Juster with pictures by Chris Raschka gives a child’s version a visit to her Nanna and Poppy. To get to their house, everyone must pass by the kitchen window (the Hello, Goodbye Window) – which looks like a regular window but it’s not. The child tells details about her grandparents and what they do during their visit – all with great connections.

Here are some of mine:

“The kitchen is where Nanna and Poppy spend most of the time. So you can climb up on the flower barrel and tap the window, and duck down and they won’t know who did it, or you can press your face against the glass and frighten them.”
My grandparents kitchen was in the back of the house with a big window. My Babcia often sat at the kitchen table playing solitaire, my DziaDzia sitting at the end of the table reading the paper. At night – you could see the glow of the light and know Babcia might be washing dishes at the sink, while my DziaDzia was eating that day’s sweet treat. My father would hold us up to knock on the window and eventually, we could reach it ourselves. Of course, when he heard us coming in, my DziaDzia would hide and jump out to scare us when we actually entered the house.

Of course, the kitchen was rarely empty and often had various other relatives in it as well. My grandparents house seemed to be the center of the universe – where everyone gathered for the cake and pretzels that were in endless supply, to play a quick hand of cards, to have a cup of tea on the way to run errands, to just get love.

“Nanna says she even used to give me a bathe in the sink when I was little – really!”

There are many, many of those photos tucked away in my family, all with the requisite soapy hairdo of course. My mother has carried on the tradition with her own grandchildren. And since she has a very large stainless steel sink – they took baths in there just a few weeks ago, even though they are five and three!! What is it about the kitchen sink bathtub that brings back such great memories?

“When we leave we always stop at the window to blow kisses goodbye.”

Leaving was never something simple and could often be a 20 minute ordeal. My Babcia would stand in the window while my DziaDzia would walk everyone to the car. We’d blow kisses to everyone and keep waving until we pulled out of the driveway and down the street. In nice weather, they’d even walk to the end of the driveway to wave good-bye. It made you feel as if you would be missed – and that you needed to go back soon.

My grandparents’ house was something special.


Melodee said...

This just goes to show the deep level of thinking one can get to by finding the right book and connection. Thanks for sharing those special memories.

Shirley said...

Times gone by, loved ones we hold dear--memories so rich and powerful that they beg to be communicated. The Hello Goodbye Window will be one of the books I look for next. Patricia Polacco's books are also a rich source of these kinds of memories and they always speak to me. When reading them to my students, especially Chicken Sunday, it is hard for me to contain my emotion. I seldom succeed, but then the children know the power and beauty of the written word. Thank you for sharing some of your poignant memories and for the book recommendtion. I'm always on the look-out for childrens' books that capture the essence of love.