Time to Visit Grandmom's

“Over the hill and through the woods…” That saying rang true the better part of my childhood, through my teenage years and well past my 20’s and 30’s. You see, my Grandmom (Mother’s Mother – Anna Mae Malasky), literally lived over a hill and basically through the woods. And you’d go to see Grandmothers house. My Grandpop built the house on what remained of the Malasky Farm which had been claimed by eminent domain when the Suburban Water Company had built what is now the Reservoir just outside of East Greenville, Pennsburg and Red Hill, PA. The Malasky Farm along with a whole host of other farms situated along the banks of the Perkiomen River were all claimed by the bull dozer so many years ago.

But fast forward to my childhood, and I only ever saw bits and pieces of that when the lake levels would drop in times of drought. Just past my Grandpop’s Cherry Orchard you could see some of the foundations of the Malasky Farm’s out buildings and the tell tale orange day lilies always bloomed just where my Great Grandmother had planted them. Ever holiday was spent at Grandmom’s (of which my Dad nicknamed “The Ponderosa”). My Mom’s side of the family is on the large side with 6 siblings total. No holiday was incomplete with out a hoard of people and an equally massive spread of home cooked food on the table. When we’d leave after a celebration, we got in the habit of chiding my dad to honk the horn and my Grandmom would wave from the window. Kind of became a ritual of sorts and every time I left myself, well, you have to honk the horn!

Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter, the 4th of July. Birthdays, weddings, anniversaries, reunions. Heck, just about every other so many weeks we’d be over there for something. I was baby sat who knows how many times. I slept over who knows how many times. Mom would drop me off as a kid and I’d wait on the hill watching for her car to round the bend come 5 o’clock on Knight Road. And back in the 80’s, if you saw 2 cars the whole day coming down Knight Road, that was something!

Point being I spent my fair share of time at Grandmom’s and loved every minute spent in that kitchen or every damn nap I took on her longer than life sectional couch. The home had large windows that faced north and south. The outside was inside in a way. Just past the big yard the woods called. Endless hours of exploration, poking about and discovery entertained my every waking hour spent there. During get togethers, sometimes I’d stow away down in the basement and look through all the old books in her bookshelves or hide in the garage and peruse my Grandpop’s tools and welding equipment long since left dormant with his passing at my young age. I didn’t know him very well but knew he was an ironworker, knew he was a welder and knew he had owned his own business: “Superior Welding”. Some time later I discovered later in his career he had been a talented TIG welder ironically. My connection to him came through his shop and tools some how.

Somehow, we’d all get together and lend a hand with chores around her house. Things needed to be done and Grandmom was all on her own so we all pitched in one way or the other. Heck, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve mowed her lawn or tended to the long track of field to the end of her lane and back again! Crystal clear well water with PA Dutch pretzels waited for me up at the house when I was finished. I can still smell and taste it all.

But with the passage of time, slowly relatives began to move out of state to make lives elsewhere. Slowly each gathering became smaller. Our trips to Grandmom’s became less frequent and of course with getting all grown up on my end, I was home less. However, each holiday always drew me back to Grandmom’s front steps like clockwork. To any friend that accompanied me, the door was wide open with the introduction: “Just call me Grandmom”. One way I’d sneak in a ride while on vacation or if I needed some time to myself before getting my ears talked off at a get together would be to put my “good” clothes in a bag, send them with my parents but suit up and ride over through town on my mountain bike and then head over to Grandmom’s to hit up the Red or Blue trails around the lake. Early on riding the trails around the lake, which were dominantly horse trails, was a big no-no… So you had to be sneaky. But with time, even that changed and they allowed mountain bikers to share the trail. But in my teenage years, you’d have to poach them and I had all the trails and trail connections scoped out to minimize my exposure. My ride would end with a long slow pedal up Grandmom’s lane, which was indeed quite long being that the home was really set back far from the road. Peace and quiet resided up on that hill but the ride up the lane became cathartic in many ways.

Eventually with the passing of my Grandmom, the home was put up for auction but with a little stroke of luck, the county purchased it under the provision of putting all the land into conservation. Kind of a nice gesture so now everyone could enjoy the spot. Unfortunately the home’s roof suffered some damage and subsequently the inside received extensive water damage so rather than repair the county decided to take down the home. I had not been up to the spot since it was taken down until this past Christmas break.

So when I am home, I had always made a point of heading over to Grandmom’s. I just kept calling it that even after it was sold. Am I supposed to say “I’m going over to the reservoir”? Heck no! That’s just not right. So when I suited up this past Sunday, I said to my parents I was riding over to Grandmom’s and back. They knew where I was going but I think just saying it that way puts my heart at ease in some way. I had to pause when I reached the lane this time. When I paused I noticed a doe standing maybe 6 feet from me in the tree line to my left. Didn’t move and neither did I. So we just sat there and looked at each other. Grandmom? Maybe. I picked my bike back up and continued the grind up to where the house once stood:

Hey Grandmom!

It’s nice and quiet up there and with a good view of the surrounding area. Grandpop and Grandmom picked a good spot. It was a bit surreal to stand “in the kitchen” or “in the living room” with grass underfoot.

View from Grandmom's

The biggest thing for me was meals shared with family here. And the desserts! More than the eye could take in some times… But it’s those times up there with family engaged in conversation, howling with laughter at my Uncle’s jokes and shenanigans, joking with my Aunts and hearing my Grandmom’s tell tale laugh and wide smile. All these memories and much more flooded me up there. In many ways the home I’ve made for myself here in NH is akin to Grandmom’s house: Over a hill and through the woods. Welding fits in there too somehow. Each time I’m home though, I’ll still head over to Grandmom’s. I can’t not pay her a visit.