As 2016 draws to a close, I often reflect on the past – there’s something about the end of another year that makes me a little bit sentimental. I’ve thought about my grandparents a lot lately; after all, I live in their house and make a living on their property. I’m typing this post from what used to be their bedroom and I remember exactly how it was arranged…even down to the religious picture that hung on the wall to my right – my grandmother had bought it from a TV evangelist back in the 70’s, to my dad’s chagrin. Although they have both been gone for more then a decade, I still refer to my home as my grandparents house. My grandmother later told me she cringed when I came up with their monikers. Well, the names stuck and they will forever be Granpoo and Grantoo. Being very proper, my grandmother was appalled at the “poo” part of her name, but learned to live with it and appreciate it as a term of endearment!
Years ago, if you would have told me as a young adult that I would be living in my grandparents two hundred year old log home and running a pet care business for a living, I would have scoffed at such an idea. I was going to live in the big city, of course, not in rural Ontario!
My grandfather was a farmer. Although I didn’t have such aspirations, I realized after a few years into the kennel business, that the apple didn’t fall too far from the tree. We both cared for animals for a living, his being mainly cows and chickens, whereas mine were dogs and cats. Although taking care of farm animals versus people’s pets is different, both involve feeding, cleaning and a schedule that suits the needs of the animals involved, often at odds with family gatherings.
I can still picture us sitting around the Christmas dinner table years ago…waiting. Back then, dinner was lunch, and supper was, well, supper. My dad still corrects me on this point – farmers always ate a big meal at noon and it was called dinner. The turkey was carved, home made gravy steamed in the boat and a stack of white bread, with real butter, was served with all meals. Add some plain mashed potatoes, defrosted vegetables from the freezer, home made pickled beets and cucumbers and the meal was complete. Except for the fact my grandfather was still missing.
He was, of course, busy with “the chores” – the chores being feeding the farm animals and cleaning up the stables. Sometimes, before dinner, we’d go down to the barn and see what he was up to and if we were lucky, we’d get a freshly laid egg plucked from under an annoyed chicken. Or we’d help him bring in the cows, calling them “Cow-bossy, Cow-bossy”. I quickly learned the importance of closing all the farm gates back then, as well as learning to avoid the dreaded cow patty. I still use these skills on a daily basis at the kennel today!
Finally, the kitchen door would creak open and my grandfather would rush in, along with a strong smell of cow manure. He’d hang his fragrant coveralls up in the hallway, take off his dirty boots, wash his hands and sit down to the feast, despite protests from my father for him to take a shower. And so it went year in, year out, at every Christmas, Thanksgiving, Easter, Birthday, and so on….until the farm animals were eventually sold and the barn sat vacant.
Family meals are a quiet affair these days, with just myself, my husband and my parents. How time has gone by…my parents are now in their 80’s, which seemed so old when my grandparents had reached that age.
As I entered the kitchen on Christmas day 2016 (creaky door replaced years ago), supper was ready for me. I had been busy doing my “chores” – feeding the dogs and cats at the kennel. Everyone was waiting for me, as we had waited for my grandfather so many years ago. And so it seemed that life had come full circle.
When I hung up my coat in the same hallway my grandfather had hung his overalls those many years ago, took off my boots and washed up, I felt a strong sense of déja vu. But I knew something was different – my dad didn’t ask me to take a shower before sitting down for supper, so I must be doing something right!
Cheers and have a great New Years Eve!