I remember cutting roses for Grandma from the giant bush by her side door. I remember the pastel pillow mints in the crystal candy dish on the sideboard. I remember “Chicken in a Biskit” crackers in the kitchen, and Planters peanuts on the coffee table at cocktail time. I remember her record player, the size of a buffet, like the stereo furniture I saw later in Mad Men. I remember her multiple copies of Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture, especially the white one with the cannon on it, and the strange and exciting album cover for the soundtrack to A Clockwork Orange.
“That’s my favorite record,” my grandma told me when I held the album and studied the artwork.
As a teenager I read A Clockwork Orange because of Grandma, and I watched the movie, and I bought my own copy of the soundtrack on cassette tape, and later on CD. When I hear Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony, Second movement, I think of A Clockwork Orange and Grandma.
On St. Simons I remember wide sweeping beaches at low tide, hard under my small bare feet. The sand was tan, and it glittered in the sunlight. I remember the causeway, and the village. I remember Mom’s story that she knew as she approached my delivery that the drawbridge would be up when the time came, and the drawbridge was up when she went into labor with me, and they had to wait for a boat to pass before they could get to Brunswick to the hospital for me to be born.
I remember Grandpa’s small station wagon, I think it was silver, and all the tools rolling around in the back. He was a handyman for their rental properties. He had also been a diplomat in Ceylon.
I remember Grandpa’s room upstairs in their house. He had a whole living area up there, not just his bedroom, and there was a huge dictionary — the biggest dictionary I had ever seen, probably 5 inches thick when closed — open on a pedestal at the entrance to the room. There was a black and white TV, the only TV in the house, with rabbit-ear antennae. The room was bright with natural light. I remember it as a white room because of all the sunlight, but I’m not sure that it actually was white, it was just full of light. The room had a wall of east-facing windows. From up there you could see over the dunes to the beach and the Atlantic Ocean. I felt like I was in a lighthouse up there. It was the kind of room a cat would love. It was full of sunbeams.
I remember Grandpa’s puzzles. Wooden cubes to take apart and put back together. A ball and cup. Wooden handheld mazes with a tiny ball and a tiny hole, and you had to tip the puzzle in your hands to move the ball through the maze to the hole. He had a larger one, too, a table top version that you used levers to tip the surface of the maze. That one was harder than the handheld one.
I remember the book shelf in the living room, with Grandma’s big book of mythology, and The Story of Ferdinand. I always loved Ferdinand the bull, sitting under a tree with the flowers instead of fighting the other bulls.
I remember the polished wood floors at Grandma and Grandpa’s house, and the cut glass seagull sculptures, and the shag Chartreuse area rug. I remember sitting on the floor and coloring while the grownups talked politics. I remember the cuckoo clock in the guest bedroom, and how I always wanted to see the bird come out, but I was never quick enough. The cuckoo bird was a great mystery to me, and I was delighted on the rare occasion I got to actually see it pop out.
I remember Grandma and Grandpa, and the safety and love I felt in their home.