A Stellar Flare of Young Adult Writing and Visual Art
BY KATHRYN COURT
My Grandma Kaye is a pretty cool person. She has bright red hair and always wears festive clothes to match whatever event is taking place. Whether it is Christmas with terribly ugly sweaters or Easter with denim vests covered in white bunnies and pink flowers, Grandma Kaye never misses an event without her stylish wardrobe choices. She is a single mom to five boys. Not just a mom to five kids, a SINGLE mom to five BOYS. Growing up these boys were definitely all boy and treated each other as such. She raised her boys in the Mormon gospel and did the best she could to make sure they went to church every Sunday. Grandma put them all in piano lessons– even though it wasn’t what her sons wanted. “Piano gave my boys discipline, and I knew that at least one of them actually wanted to do it.” she would say as she looked very sternly at my Dad. She always picked on him. Grandma often tells me stories of how she would not tolerate her boys burping or even worse– FARTING! As soon as one of her boys farted she would run into her room and grab her special “fragrance” and spray the butt of the young boy who had released such a– and I quote, “terrible stench and embarrassment to the dignity of my family.” By this point in the story my dad is usually shaking his head, knowing that it was probably him who she was talking about, and my face is burning while I’m crying with laughter.
Now in amongst all this cool stuff, my Grandma lived in what I thought was the coolest house. The carpet in the living room was red-orange like her hair. She owned white scratchy couches and layered them with bright colored blankets. In the kitchen there was blue carpet on one half where the table was and linoleum on the other half where the sink and stove were. In the guest room there were bunk beds with Care Bear comforters and pillows. Downstairs the carpet was bright bright red. The couches were wooden framed with orange and yellow flowered cushions. There were cupboards lining one wall that held all the toys a kid could ever hope for. The upstairs bathroom was ALL pink. Pink carpet, pink towels, pink counter, pink soap, everything was pink. The downstairs bathroom was the same red carpet as the rest of downstairs. There was red and white striped wallpaper. To sum it up her house was the classic 80’s style. Nowadays such a house would be considered old fashioned and outdated, but I thought that it was the coolest house ever!
I loved to stay at Grandma Kaye’s house. I loved to sleep in the Care Bear beds. I loved to watch movies with sweet and salty popcorn on the white couches. I loved to sit at the table on the blue carpet and eat nachos with her homemade salsa for dinner. This was one of the coolest things ever considering at home I was not allowed to eat on the carpet. I absolutely loved going downstairs and exploring the cupboards. I just loved to be at my Grandma Kaye’s house. Nothing could ever make her house better, except for one thing– when all her sons got together with their families for dinner. Sometimes christmas dinner and sometimes just dinner with a whole ton of nachos and salsa. Of course at this time my extended family wasn’t as big as it is now and all the kids could squeeze around the table and eat while the adults all sat in the living room or downstairs. I loved coming to dinner with this family. The cousins my age– who are all boys– and I would meet in the Care Bear room and start a giant game of hide and go seek. Nolan, who is the oldest, always decided who counted first and then we went off. Running around the house, hiding in the millions of different places like the cupboards down stairs or slipping ever so quietly under the bunk beds while the seeker counted. I think all of us loved Grandma Kaye’s house.
I never in my wildest dreams, ever thought that her house would change. But I guess all things change don’t they? I mean people change, businesses change, T.V. shows change. Everything changes. And my beloved Grandma’s house was no different. At a family potluck in a church gym my Grandma announced that she would be renovating all of the upstairs in her house. I did NOT like this idea at all. What about the red-orange carpet? What about my favorite Care Bear beds? What about getting to eat on the blue carpet? I could not understand why Grandma Kaye wanted to change everything. Why would you change the place where you raised your kids, where your kid’s kids loved to play?
My family would go to her house to see how things were going with her and the renovations. Checking to make sure she didn’t need anything and that she was happy with the progress of her house. One time while we were checking in on her there was a huge piece of plastic separating the living room– which now had new grey-brown carpet– and the kitchen which hadn’t been touched yet. The familiar blue carpet still underneath the table.
Another time we checked in, the living room was done along with the bedrooms and the hallway. There were no bunk beds, which meant no Care Bear bedding. In fact there weren’t any beds at all, except for Grandma’s bed in her newly renovated room. The kitchen and bathroom were now in progress. Nothing looked the same. Nothing looked familiar. The colorful carpet was gone along with the pink bathroom. I couldn’t help but go downstairs where everything was still the same and always would be. The bathroom still had the red and white striped wallpaper and the main room still had the cupboards filled with toys. The couches were the same, the carpet was the same. Everything was the same. Everything was the way it was meant to be.
Family dinners no longer happened as often as they used to. Family moved away and grandkids grew up. The new furniture in the living room, I have to admit is better than the scratchy white couches, they are soft and squishy. Grandma got a new flat screen t.v. that sits on a huge charcoal colored stand. The bathroom is all neutral colors with cold tile and the guest bedroom where I loved to sleep and drift off into dreamland with the Care Bears has a new big queen sized bed with red and orange hexagonal bedding. The kitchen no longer has blue carpet under the table. No cool opportunities to eat on the carpet without getting in trouble. The countertops are a granite looking material. The only things that are the same upstairs are the pink towels in the bathroom and the light brown cupboards in the kitchen.
When I walk into my Grandma Kaye’s house it is like meeting a stranger. A little awkward and quiet. When I sit on the couches there is a sense of uncertainty. I don’t know what to do or where to go next. I never sleep on the new queen bed. It’s not as comforting as the Bear friends of my childhood. There is no longer the feeling of fun and excitement. The upstairs is sophisticated and proper like tea time at noon.
I know that I will forever have the memories of the coolest house in my childhood. I could never forget playing hide and seek, eating nachos, and sitting in the living room in my Grandma’s lap as she read to her precious grandchildren. I will never forget the ache I felt when she decided to renovate. However I know that I will make new memories to cherish forever. Memories that I will hold close to my heart just as I hold the old ones. I will always remember my cool grandma who still tells me stories of her eventful motherhood. Stories of “special fragrance” or the “discipline” piano provided.
Sometimes change is good. And sometimes it is hard to learn what good comes from change. Unfortunately I still have yet to learn of the good from this change. But every time I go back to that new stranger of a house I understand more and more why change happens, and why it must happen. What would we ever learn if everything stayed the same? How could we accept the bigger, greater changes in the world? I’ll tell you how, we learn and grow in our homes, with our families. We listen and ask questions. We accept the small changes and make the best of the situation. We confide in each other and trust in each other. This is why change is necessary, so that we can grow and accept.
There were so many lessons learned in the old house that I couldn’t possibly believe that I could learn and grow in another environment. I didn’t think change could be accepted. I didn’t want change to be accepted. And that is where the first lesson in the new house was taught and is still being drilled into my brain. Every single time I go visit Grandma Kaye I am reminded that I need to learn to want to accept change. At first this concept was confusing. My head couldn’t wrap around wanting change. Does anyone really want change? Or am I the only one? I go through this thought process a lot and every time I come to the conclusion that there are billions of people in this world and there must be many other people who struggle with the concept of wanting change just as I am. However I haven’t yet come across someone who has been struggling with the change of my Grandma’s house like I have.
Never have I ever told my Grandma or even my sister how really feel. I fear that if ever did tell my Grandma she would be hurt and if I told my sister she would think I was being ridiculous, and maybe I am being ridiculous. Maybe this whole sentimental feeling I have towards this house of my childhood is silly and unnecessary. I can’t help but think, however that this experience is necessary for me and my personal growth. This thought is something that I CAN wrap my head around. I have been taught my whole life that trial is handed to me so that I may grow and become more than I am today. Why should this experience be any different? It was at this very moment that I typed those words onto this sheet of paper that I realized it’s not. This experience is not any different. It is not holding me back from growing unless I dwell on what used to be. It was at this moment that I typed those words into this narrative that I knew for a fact that the house is not the only thing that changed. It is now that I learned and saw inside of myself that I changed. In watching the play place of my childhood change, I gradually changed with it.
Unlike three paragraphs ago when I bluntly stated that I didn’t know of any good in this change, I can now say that I do. There is so much good, I have learned and I have grown. I have accepted change, and I want to accept change. I really do. There is the key in this entire lesson that has been taught so symbolically to me. Through the renovations and through my choice to write this narrative I have discovered how amazing it feels to want to accept change. Now that I want to accept change, I feel a huge weight lifted from my shoulders. I have dumped everything off my chest and onto these sheets of paper.
Kathryn Court is 15 years old and lives in Milk River, Alberta where she attends Erle Rivers High School. This story of growth and acceptance which translates literal change in a favorite childhood location into personal change allowed her to process what she was experiencing.