Michael’s grandmother, Grandma Stewart, as we call her, turned 90 last Sunday. All of her four children (plus three daughter’s-in-law), nine out of ten grandchildren (plus two grandchildren-in-law), and three great-grand children, friends and other relatives all descended upon Lancaster, OH to celebrate.
I cannot say enough about Grandma Stewart. She always makes me feel like her real grand-daughter. She is a gracious, elegant woman with old-world class, sensibility, manners, and charm. At the age of 90 she is always impeccably dressed in a blazer with skirt. Meals at home require any one of her excellent collection of batik print tablecloths picked up on yearly trips to France, and, yes, good silver. To this day she insists on the things that bring her pleasure and joy, regardless of how impractical they may be for everyone else involved.
I want to share some photos of Grandma’s home because this is the home of someone who knows what they enjoy and places no limits on that. Just about every room in the house is done in signature blue or green, with vintage floral or damask wallpapers. Little vases and knick-knacks from travels and friends sit along every window ledge and shelf, each with a story. Framed art abounds in every corner, many pieces painted by Grandma herself. Visiting Grandma Stewart’s home is an experience. She will part with nothing, and so the home is packed with mementos, catalogs, photos, you name it, spanning the decades. It is a child’s dream, full of color and objects, rooms, closets, basement, all filled with things to discover and marvel at.
The photos below are from the living room where the family convenes after dinner, or where friends who drop by are invited to sit for pleasant conversation. The folding card table is generally always in place, with spare chairs nearby for post-supper card games. The game is always rummy and Grandma ALWAYS wins, usually by a margin of a 100 points or so.
A spare sitting room sits between the living room and the dining room for spill over during larger gatherings, plus more space for all of grandma’s treasured things. This sofa is often a quiet place to sit when one needs respite from the boisterous family gatherings.
The dining room is so very important. This is the place where everyone reliably gathers for grace and a good meal. Table settings are a chance for creativity and enjoying newness in a familiar place. Grandma continues to sit at the head of the table.
An upstairs bedroom goes softer and paler with creamy moldings, dreamy paper, and french chair in yellow quilted fabric. Waking up in this room is like waking up in a spring garden. Something about the wallpaper is mesmerizing to me. I never tired of gazing at it.
What I realized is that Grandma posseses the heart of an artist. As we sat outside on a beautiful cloudless day she said, “The sky is so bright that if you put that color on a canvas it would look gaudy. I know because I’ve tried.” Her approach to life is immediate and sensory and sensitive. She continues to put energy into what to wear to lunch or how the table is set, because to her that is as essential to her definition of life as breathing.