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Image by Annie Spratt
  • Writer's pictureEthan Voss

Grandma's Couch

While I layed on the old red weathered couch clutching the rough rainbow trout pillow in the dark, I listened to the sound of my grandmother’s voice telling me the stories of her childhood. I was on my final annual week-long trip to my grandparents' former home in Saint Joseph, Missouri before they quickly decided to pack up their belongings and downsize to a smaller apartment in Hiawatha, Kansas that winter. Grandma sat in the recliner near the couch right next to her beloved elephant leaf plant sitting in the corner of the living room. While Grandpa’s chair was empty as he retreated to bed in the other room, Grandma began telling me stories of her life growing up on the family farm. She recounted the times that she would journey to school with her siblings walking miles in the cold to get an education that we so quickly take for granted today. Her stories of gypsy’s stealing chickens as she traversed the train tracks fascinated my young mind as I remember closing my eyes and imagining my young grandmother’s journey as if I was watching a film in the theater. Each night, a new story awaited me as I prepared for bed in the vintage smoky living room adjacent to the kitchen where our evenings were filled with card games, dominoes, laughter, and the nightly local news. I learned how my great grandfather would heat the water for the kids to take a bath in an outdoor basin on the rural farm before taking his bath last, as the warmth of the water faded with each family member. The hardest moments were always the goodbyes as my week with my grandparents drew to a close. No where else would I ever get a bedtime snack of a nutty bar or rice krispy treat out of the wooden pantry in the hall. No where else would I sit quietly on a porch swing fascinated by the beautiful birds arriving to consume the seeds Grandpa would place in the feeder. No where else would I dig through the massive collection of tools in Grandpa’s shed to find the watering can to prepare the garden for fresh tomatoes. As I returned to their old house later that year for a final garage sale, it was hard for me to watch strangers leave with items you could only find at Grandma and Grandpa’s house. I wish they would have moved closer to Kansas City to be near my family, but they chose to return to a place where they had laid their roots many years prior. While they still have that old ragged couch in their small apartment, I miss the nights spent laughing and learning from the childhood stories of my grandmother. God works in incredible ways as that old house which I possess so many memories in caught on fire only a few months after they moved out. While the physical structure may not stand the way it used to, the memories created within are cemented in my mind as I hope to one day share them with my grandchildren as they come to visit me, listening to the stories on an old couch only a grandparent can possess.

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