More than just what I can see

Ausser & Pearl; an emjayandthem photo

I often think about what Heaven will be like, and have always imagined it to be centered around one place:  my Grandparents house.  I see Grandma there with her apron on, cooking at the stove and Grandpa, my sweet Dad and my Uncle Jarl sitting at her table, sipping coffee, smiling and ushering me in. The love and warmth and happiness there is indescribable, the feeling … enveloping.  Outside are all the dogs, kitties and horses of my childhood, just waiting for me to come and say hello.

As a child, my Grandparents home sat less than a mile away.  I rode my bike or my pony over to their farmyard and in I’d come, stinking of horses and fresh air and always, always I was welcomed.  Grandma’s kitchen was everything that was good: scents of cinnamon, butter, sugar and jam lingered, even long after meals were cleared.  Grandpa, curious and kind, was forever interested in my stories; Grandma, capable and whimsical, was also efficient and no-nonsense.  Sometimes I got to spend the night there, and the feeling of slipping my bare legs under her starched white sheets lingers with me still.

I loved and was loved.

Grandpa’s barn

It’s those memories that I slip back to when my heart’s been heavy.  But then I think about them, I remember the love that was given so freely, the hearts and doors that were always open, and the time that was shared.  And when they come back to me,  I believe.

Darla’s post inspired this one.  Thank you, sweet friend.

Categories: Confidence at any age, Home, Personal, Relationships, Thoughts, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 49 Comments

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49 thoughts on “More than just what I can see

  1. Thank you for taking us to your Grandma’s kitchen, dear MJ. For sharing your haven in the skies.

  2. That’s one huge barn! I’d hate to have to be the guy to scrape and paint it. 🙂 I see those kinds of cupola’s on barns and hope that someone can save them. (If only walls could talk…what would that barn have to say!) I spent plenty of time in barns (insert your own punchline). Swinging from a rope in the hay loft, building straw bale forts, searching for where the mother cat hide her kittens, etc. Good times. I almost burnt our barn down one spring day (blog worthy?)

    I’m glad that you can return to these happy memories when you’re blue….you’re description reminds me vaguely of the book “The Shack.” If you’ve never read it…consider it.

    Thanks for the trip to your grandparents farm….wish I could see it in person…old farms are so cool. (I see the fuel tank supports are still standing in the photo. Was it a diesel tank or gas tank?) 😉

    Peace to you friend,

    • Oh that barn is indeed huge – we had many happy memories up in that hayloft – swinging, jumping, goofing around, playing with baby bats -yes, bats! Kittens galore, too. Grandpa always had one or two stalls cleaned out and filled with fresh straw and a bit of oats for our ponies.

      I have read “The Shack” and found it deeply moving – the underlying story is disturbing but the message throughout is one of hope. Love it. 🙂

      Wish you could see that old farm in person, too. There’s an older building there being used as a workshop; it was my Dad and his brothers/sister schoolhouse. The chalkboard is still hanging and old cursive letters are still on the board. I ought to post a photo of that sometime.

      And, to answer your question, most likely diesel, but I can’t be sure.
      Bests to you, RR.


      • richripley

        about the chalkboard and cursive lettering in the old schoolhouse…SAVE THEM. That kind of stuff is falling by the wayside and when it’s “gone” it’ll never come back.

        About “The Shack”…I couldn’t read the chapter where the dark stuff happened…just too dark and sinister for me (but I did skim it so I knew the plot. Just too much of a tenderheart I suppose-HA!)

        Your old family farm photos are always my favorites. Have a great week!

      • I surely hope that building and the old chalkboard will be maintained but it’s not one I can lay claim to. I can say this, though, after 70+ years, it’s still there and so is the writing :).

        I had a hard time with the dark stuff in “The Shack” but … the rest of it? Deeply affecting.

        Thanks again for visiting, and for tagging along on a farm visit with me!

  3. Bruce

    I needed this reminder of how I’d like my kids to remember home, which in turn led to a mental note to work harder at being the best dad I can be. As a Realtor, I sell homes; as a Father, I instill possibilities of what their world can be, as a Husband, I do my best to be grounded, supporting, and loving. As a Reader of your beautiful work, I stay reminded of how I can add value to someone else’s life every single day. Thank You.

    • Hi Bruce, thank you for visiting. I personally believe that just being conscious of how we’re living, who we’re impacting, and what our legacy will be is a good way to stay on track. The fact that you’re so aware of your impact means that you are most likely having a huge one!


  4. Wonderful hearfelt memories.such peace and contentment…it truly was a touch of heaven.

    • Thank you, Butch. Other family members live there now; I have never been back inside since Grandma and Grandpa left the farm. I like to keep it the way it was — in my mind anyways.
      Thank you for visiting!

  5. Reblogged this on Wordsmith's Desk and commented:
    I usually don’t blog on the weekends and hardly ever reblog…but this ine from MJ was just too precious to pass up.

  6. mydailey

    Thank you. The Brooks and Dunn song was great. I was thinking the same this morning. I was standing in line at the grocery store last night and there was a blind girl in front of me feeling all her groceries…. and mine, with her hands. When I woke up this morning I kept my eyes closed and just felt God with my hands. There is more than I can see.

  7. Beautiful, MJ. I, too, remember my Grandma’s house with love. I remember spending the night with her, and how she’d pile up quilts and pillows beside the bed, so if I fell off, I wouldn’t get hurt…..
    Thanks for the smile today.

    • Aww … piling up the quilts, boy if that wouldn’t make a little one feel tucked and secure, I don’t know what could! Beautiful memory, Dianna.

  8. Hi MJ, I saw your comment on Dianna, of These Days of mines blog. I had to visit because I also live in West Michigan.
    I love your header, and really appreciated reading your wonderful memories. Great barn shot too!

  9. Come to think of it, I associate heaven with my grandmother, as well. Miss her so much. Hope you’re having a lovely weekend, MJ.

  10. I loved this, MJ. It’s strange how cinnamon in particular reminds me of my Gram. She used to bake her own donuts and sprinkle them with cinnamon while I would watch her bustle about her kitchen in her apron. Such vivid memories! Sometimes, just one sniff of cinnamon and I’m right there with her again. I, for one, believe deep in my heart that we will see our loved ones again on the other side. And feel the love all over again. Thanks for sharing this, MJ!

    • Thank you, Darla. Cinnamon takes me right back there as well; my Grandma also made donuts, the cake donut kind, and they were not frosted. I can still taste them – crunchy/crispy on the outside, buttery, melt-in-your-mouth, on the inside. Mmmm … I agree with you, I do believe we will be reunited and having others that I love waiting for me makes the whole thought that much less daunting!!

  11. cooper

    Your Grandma looks like she can kick ass, give a gentle hug and be alluring all in a single day. That’s awesome. I happen to think heaven is what we want it to be…we make it right here, right now. It is how we choose to live. my two unsolicited pesos…

    • Oh yeah, she was a force to be reckoned with. Rumor has it that she turned down several marriage proposals before accepting my Grandfather’s. She was a beautiful lady, feminine and pretty yet strong and willful. She didn’t suffer fools lightly. She also did her share of stirring the pot and was hard on a few of the daughter-in-laws. A matriarch for sure.

      And, yes, I agree .. Heaven is what we want it to be and sometimes we can have it here, too. Thanks for the pesos!! 🙂 MJ

  12. I enjoyed reading this MJ. It brought back memories of our family farm with my Grandma, and days spent with her. Thank you, and I thank Butch for the reblog.

    • And I thank you for visiting!! Those older folks who came before us made for strong anchors in our family; I miss them still. MJ

  13. Sweet memories of my Nonnie and Pop-Pop’s house. Homemade pasta and gravy, Italian sausage and peppers and the lambie cakes she made us at Easter… Precious, thanks for stirring them up 🙂

    • Awww … someone I work with also has a grandparent who made lambie cake at Easter. Neat connection; thanks for commenting, hope your healing is going great!

  14. Beautiful tribute to your grandparents, MJ! Thanks for sharing the photos and memories.

  15. MJ, this is so special. I imagine that you get your talent for making us all want to visit your site regularly from your experience with your loving grandparents.

    • Aww, thanks, Renee. Thinking about them, I cannot remember even one occasion where I was turned away. There were times I stopped to visit and they were out & about, but when they were home on the farm or even after they moved to an assisted living center, their door was always open and they always warmly greeted us. Special times.

  16. You certainly were–loved.

    • Indeed. I wish all children could feel that! I carry them with me still .. When I cook, I channel her. She would let me stir the gravy or mix the dough or season the meat. I was happy to be asked to go to the basement freezer and pick out something “nice” for dessert – there were container after container full of home-made cookies, tarts and donuts and I could just pick my choice, put them on a plate, and let them defrost while we enjoyed whatever lunch she fixed.


  17. I love this post. I felt the very same way about my grandparents. To a kid who was so unsure of herself and so burdened with low self-esteem, they were my angels. They thought I was beautiful and smart and talented and they made sure I knew it. In fact, twenty some years after my grandma’s passing, I sometimes still stop to think about her and the ache I feel in her absence is still so strong it brings tears to my eyes. Isn’t it wonderful to love someone so much it literally hurts?

    • I’m so glad you had such a similarly wonderful experience; oh that every child could be so loved!!

      I know that ache you speak of, Terri, and I try to think of it as just yet another reminder that the aches only go where the love has been.
      Bests to you.

  18. This tugs at my heartstrings, MJ. Tonight, while we were putting dinner on the table, the boys were talking to their Grandma on the phone. (Via speaker-phone) She was asking about school, and they shared their stories with her. She was sweet and loving, listening to their every word.
    As I read this post, I can only hope the boys will have a similar memory of their grandparents. Certainly they can relate to the “always, always welcomed”. Just before Grandma ended the conversation, she told the boys to come see them soon, “You come whenever it’s convenient.” She said. “We’re always glad to see you.”
    Heaven and grandparents – a great combination.

    • You had the opportunity today to see this play out right before your very eyes: I’m sure my parents did as well.

      Mom attended a family reunion this summer and one of the older folks put together a wonderful collection of history on my Grandfather’s family. My Mom was saddened that there wasn’t as much mention of her, Grandma. She told me, “it was her kitchen you kids always speak of, her Christmas gatherings and her wonderful baking you all remember.” I think it made her wonder how she’ll be remembered as well.

      “We’re always glad to see you” – such a Grandmotherly thing to say, isn’t it?

      Know what I tell my Grandkids when I see them? “You’re the very best part of this day.” They just beam.

      🙂 MJ

  19. What sweet memories! Or rather, bittersweet. I’m coming to realize the two emotions are always mingled as I lose more family to age and illness. But the reunion will take away the bitter, and leave only the sweet! Like you, I believe, and find hope and comfort in my faith.
    Beautiful post, love the photos! ~ Sheila

    • I agree; it’s hit me more, years after losing them, the loss. Maybe it’s the passage of time, or seeing my Mom get more frail. But mostly, I just can’t help but be grateful for the abundance of love that was given so freely; I wish that for all children.

      Bests to you, Sheila!

  20. I don’t think you need to think about “going to” heaven. When I read your blog posts, I can see that it’s already in you.

  21. This is a beautiful post. I have wonderful memories, too, of my Grandma. Thanks for sharing with us. 🙂

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