My Grandmother’s House by Rich Smith

MY GRANDMOTHER’S HOUSE

It stood in quiet, grey weathered dignity set back on a huge lawn in Greensboro, Alabama waiting for new paint. Still an imposing building, ornate columns, like guards, were stalwart supports. The roof, covered with split cedar shakes appeared as an abstract checkerboard with moss claiming the right to cover some shakes. While a great home, the house suffered with rheumatism in its old age.

In its youth, the majestic mansion proudly dominated a large plantation in Deep South cotton country misty years ago. Broad-leaved magnolias sweetly scented the air from large, white, cup-shaped blooms. Contrasting the quiet magnolias, azaleas proudly announced neon-like colors. One could imagine inside the genteel life of ladies attired in bright silk, gossiping over afternoon tea. Men deliberating weather and crops, sipping aged whiskey, cigars pulsing on and off sending smoke drifting a new voyage. Such was a portrait of the privileged, while cotton ruled as king.

However, all kings’ reign end stepping aside for history to choose a different hue. Therefore, it did. A new hue, on the opposite side of the color wheel, made monumental changes. As a van Gogh changed the landscape, new life appeared, if not accepted for a time and a time.

An age later, for a six-year boy Mickey Mouse might as well have popped out the heavy leaded glass doors; there was excitement and adventure everywhere. Sliding down the huge banister inside or exploring the cabins in the back offered equal opportunities for a fertile imagination. Until Grandmother died a year later, taking a generation along with her.

Decades later now a man, the owners made an opportunity to visit the old home possible. The home sparkled in summer’s brilliant light. Touring the inside flooded the mind with memories, smells and relationships with the house. Outside was different. With a man’s eyes, the cabins became hewn log slave quarters. A charcoal black and white rendering replaced the boy’s color portrait.

***
This piece was written in Terry Wilson’s creative writing class at SFCC.

4 thoughts on “My Grandmother’s House by Rich Smith

  1. Rich–this is such a beautiful piece–not only the luscious details about your grandmother’s house, but how you changed as you grew up and became a man. So moving, how you now see the house:
    “Decades later now a man, the owners made an opportunity to visit the old home possible. The home sparkled in summer’s brilliant light. Touring the inside flooded the mind with memories, smells and relationships with the house. Outside was different. With a man’s eyes, the cabins became hewn log slave quarters. A charcoal black and white rendering replaced the boy’s color portrait.”

    Such honest and wonderfully descriptive writing. Bravo!

  2. Terry – I really appreciate your comments. Visiting the home was quite moving, and I remember it as vividly as when I was just 25, living in a small university town in Alabama. I recall some of my older neighbors getting irate when a black person did not cross the street and walked past on the same sidewalk. Now my nephew, in Mobile, Alabama has married a lovely black woman. It gives me hope.

    Rich

  3. Oh, Rich. I too am from the Deep South, where brilliant Mongolia trees shad the broken down memories. My summers were spent with my grandmother, and oh I miss her.

    Thank you so much for this beautifully written memory. The imagery in your piece is stunning. I could almost smell the southern summers.
    -Serena

  4. Serena – Thanks for your kind words – I had a lot of fun writing it and although short it is one of my favorites. Your writing has always impressed me as well as your ability to critique work elegantly.

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