My grandparents’ house, their garden and flower beds, the outlying buildings, and the yard that slopes down to a forest is a testimony to their combined love of beauty and order, my grandmother’s nurturing care, and my grandfather’s craftsmanship.
Grandpa (not pictured because I was so intent on getting a photo of Grandma, who too often ducks or puts a hand in front of her face) built their house himself in the 50’s, during his hours off from working at Duquesne Light. It’s a home made for enjoying the outdoors, with a porch in front and a patio opening up to the back yard. Later on, he built the brick oven on the back patio, a greenhouse, and a barn that he’s used as a workshop and place to store all the woodworking equipment he has used to make things like dining room hutches and other furniture.
He’s also kept himself busy creating flower beds for my grandmother to fill with all her favorite plants: mostly flowers. When visiting in the spring or summer, you are presented with a feast of colors and shapes that glow in the early evening light.
It is a place steeped in family history, The pine trees were tiny saplings when my dad and uncle planted them. Now they tower around a small gap between them where I pretended to be an Indian, or one of Robin Hood’s “men.”
The very bottom of the yard, down past the barn, just before entering the woods, hold memories of archery practice: sending arrows from a bow that belonged to my dad when he was a boy. Not too far from that area, hanging where it’s been for years is the tire swing I used to push my younger brother on.
The house, and the yard around it, has changed with the years, along with my grandparents; it is, in a way, an extension of them. Someday they will leave it, and I momentarily wonder if the house will continue standing, or if, lacking their sustaining presence, it will crumble like a body once the spirit flees. But for now, it more than stands–it lives, welcoming and hospitable, with my grandparents as the bright souls at its center.