Grandma Jane dreamed of homes. She loved organizing what would go where and figuring out exactly what worked best for her.
In the late 1980s, my Grandpa Claude retired and he and my Grandma Jane moved back home to the valley they had grown up in. They had a plot of land, and Grandma could finally design her dream retirement home.
So she got working on it. My grandparents were both inspired by earth-sheltered homes, as the land had a hillside with a spring coming out of it. The front of the house would be full of windows and light, and the back and the sides would be storage.
And then there were so many configurations she experimented with. Where to put the kitchen and the laundry and the bathroom. How many bedrooms to have. Where to place the furniture.
Jane got out the scratch paper and tried to figure out the perfect layout for her retirement, the last home she would ever live in.
My Grandma Jane did not have an easy life–she had health problems throughout her life that led to infertility (she adopted her three kids) and she was so sick for so long. She also dealt with financial problems, difficult living circumstances (like living in a camp trailer all summer), and the death of two children. She did not complain.
She was quiet and unassuming, hating attention. She loved computers, dogs, crocheting, family history, and organizing.
Grandma Jane was not naturally patient, but her life experiences forced patience into her. She wanted to do what was right so badly, even when it was difficult, praying for others and that she could do better.
The end of her life was slow and painful. She died at home, in the place that she had designed and hated and loved.
Her house was never finished. They moved in before it was complete and they kept working on it for years. There were problems with the house the whole time it existed–things leaked, there were mice and other creatures that could get in, and the house smelled musty. I think Grandma Jane wanted something better, but she patiently accepted what she had instead.
I think of my Grandma Jane often. She had a 3D home program on her computer, and I wish I could see what she made with it. I want to share with her my plans that I made on a similar program–I hope she would like them.
I believe she wanted this house more finished for years and years, and it never quite happened while she was alive. I wonder sometimes if I’m finally answering her prayers as we work on this house, fixing the problems and finally finishing everything.
She wouldn’t have agreed with my style decisions–her style was rooted in the 1970s, with wall-to-wall carpet, heavy brown furniture, and quite a bit of golden oak (the house was built in 1990, after all).
But even though I’m making this house a bit more industrial and modern, it will always still be Grandma’s house. I think of her when the house smells a certain way, or when I’m making homemade pancakes, or when I’m rearranging yet again. Her presence will always be in this house, and it is a privilege that I could be a part of this.