What Is Home?

My great-grandparents immigrated to Canada from Europe in the 1920’s.
My siblings and I were lucky to go over to their cozy house and spend quality time with them during the occasional lunch hour, while our parents were away. Looking back, I remember walking across the school yard, then down the street. My grandparents would meet us at the door to greet us warmly, you could hear and smell the dripping coffee. My grandma would always make cheesy macaroni, with the cheese from a can. My grandma would always know when we were coming and would make homemade dessert which was always a surprise, but always so sweet and delicious. I could say that this is one of the reasons that I have such a sweet tooth and a love for baking.
The two of them would celebrate sixty years marriage. Lots of family, that I did not know, came to celebrate. This did not worry me, it made me happy, because my grandparents were excited to see their family that they have not seen in years. They treated me as if I was a shinny medal, that they wanted to show off to everyone. My favourite memory is dancing with my grandpa. He was all dressed up, which meant it was a special occasion. He danced too fast for me, so he let me keep my little feet on top of his big feet. His strong warm body would swing me around, laughing and singing parts of the song.
A few years later, my grandmother got suddenly sick and died shortly after. My family decided to move him into long-term care, where he could be better helped by professionals. We were able to visit him there. He even had a girlfriend. Yes, my 85-year-old grandpa had a girlfriend and 15-year-old me didn’t know a thing about boyfriends. My family learned that his girlfriend was someone he used to write letters to when he was in the war.
My grandfather was getting older. My dad had told us that he would not eat, talk and had troubles taking his medication. His body was frail, his ankles were swollen and his war tattoos were undistinguishable, and his face was smaller, but always smiled when we came in. We knew he was ready to go and did not want to be in the pain any longer. So, we would visit him more frequently. My sister, dad and I went to see him. He was the happiest he had been in a long time. We would try to stay strong for him and not cry. Most of time it felt as if he was already gone, sometimes we would lay in his bed and be with him. It was difficult knowing that he was in pain and time was running out. We would talk nonsense and play with his harmonicas that he used to play and adore. Before we left, we would always give a hug and kiss along with I love you and leave.
My mom was away one day, and my dad was at work. So, my sister drove us to school that day. While were home for lunch the phone rang. We were happy and laughing and making sandwiches one second and the next moment I knew. I was speechless. My heart felt like it stopped. I was still. I could only cry. I remember, he kissed me and mumbled I love you. Those were his first words in days that he had spoken, and his last words and they meant the world to me. My grandmother and grandfather unconditionally loved me before I was born and until their final breath. They didn’t need a house to be happy they needed each other. They were each other’s home and I became part of their home.
I am a fourth generation Canadian, a great-granddaughter. Some would say, a home is a house where people live, but to me that is just a house and there is many houses and places to live. Others would say, a home is the place where you live with your family. But everyone should believe a home is much more then just a place. A home is nothing if you cannot share it with someone. Home is not a place to me, home is a person. Home for me is many places.

1 Comment

  1. Robyn Jones

    Great story about your family Carmel. I enjoy hearing where people are from. They sound like they were great, and I am sure you really miss them…. As I was reading, I saw that you made use of some great rich text in places. I appreciated how you explained dancing with your grandpa with your small feet on his. I also felt as though I was present with your grandpa when he was in the hospital with his swollen ankles. I am wondering, where were his tattoos as you said they disappeared? Were they also on his ankles? What were they of? I also appreciated how you talked about laying on your grandpa’s bed with him, and how it felt like he was already gone. You did a great job near the end of your story of bringing the reader into the moment you lost your grandpa as well. Your description of making lunch one second and how your heart stopped when you heard the phone was well described. I would have liked to see a little more rich text in places, for example how did the hospital smell when you went in there? What did the coffee and baking smell like in your grandma’s house? Your story reminds me that my own grandparents immigrated here when they were young from Finland. Thanks for sharing your story! It was an interesting read.

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