Sunday, June 3, 2012

Grammie's Room

Her room always smelled of powder and perfume. It wasn't an overwhelming scent but a gentle, soft smell that enticed a little girl to investigate, even though I knew stepping even one foot inside the door would mean big trouble if I got caught.

The problem was, there was just so much to see that tantalized my eyes. Right in the middle of the bed sat the cutest little puppy with coal black eyes. I didn't even care that it was created of long strings of white yarn. It called to me to pick it up and hold it close. I got into big trouble for that one. And another admonition that Grandma's bedroom was off limits and not a place for playing.

Perhaps it never would have occurred to the small child that I was to investigate Grammie's bedroom except that the only bathroom in the big old two-story house was on the second floor and getting to it involved passing right by Grammie and Pa's door. It also didn't help that Grammie always left the door open. Sometimes I'd just stand in the hallway and look in. Other times my curiosity got the best of me. That's when I employed either my middle sister or my only boy cousin (at the time) to stand guard. But that didn't always work out either. But more about that later.

The thing was, there was just so much to see that deemed closer inspection and nearly all of it was easy to spot from the doorway. Grammie had this piece of furniture she called a "vanity" and the things that sat on it were all sparkly and God knows, little girls  love sparkly. Well, at least this little girl did. And that vanity sat right inside the door so it took no more than three child steps to be standing right in front of it and if I thought Grammie didn't realize I was upstairs, maybe I'd even have time to sit on the bench and get an up close look at those glittery things.

The mirror, brush, and comb were all silvery. I thought they looked like something that should have belonged to Cinderella's step-sisters rather than my Grammie, but there they were, just begging to be used. I'd grab the brush and run it through my blond hair, then pick up the mirror to see how I looked--never mind that there was a big mirror over the vanity. Behind the hair things stood a small silver box, sort of high and round, and no amount of looking at it would tell me what it was. I'd not seen anything like it before and try as I might, my little kid brain couldn't come up with an answer. So I reached over and removed the top.

That's when the music started. It was a lovely little tinkly sound, but so muted I figured nobody but me could hear it. Inside the container was powder. How disappointed I was that it held nothing more glamorous. Surely I pictured it must be a hideaway for jewelry or rings or even a bracelet. But powder for a lady's face. How boring. I put the cover back on the box and made my escape. I figured I was maybe going to be a good detective when I grew up. Fearless. That's what I was. I'd investigated Grammie's room and not been caught.

I told my middle sister about my discovery and promised her that the next time we visited Grammie and Pa, I'd take her upstairs and show her my find. I explained the best I could that Grammie had a silver box that played music but I didn't think she took me seriously. The next time I saw my cousin Stevie, I told him too. I don't think he believed me either. Grammie and Pa weren't rich. We knew that much. Pa drove a school bus and Grammie stayed home and cooked and cleaned and did laundry and stuff like that. But I'd seen those silvery things with my own eyes. I was determined to prove I wasn't making stuff up.

I don't recall when it was that we were all at Grammie and Pa's again, but I do vividly remember telling my sister and Stevie that when the coast was clear, I'd take them up to Grammie's room and show them the box that played music. The three of us played out in the yard, colored in the always-present coloring books Grammie kept for our entertainment, and when I figured we were safe, I whispered, "Come on," and without a word, the two followed me up the stairs. I thought I'd show my sister first for I knew she would love the sparkle too. We made Stevie stay in the hall to keep watch, promising him that he'd be the next one in the room to see for himself.

The problem was, Stevie wasn't a good watchman. He was too interested in what my sister and I were up to so he stuck his head inside the door while keeping his feet in the hallway. Poor guy, the only boy cousin among six girls. If he wanted to play at all, he was stuck with us. We didn't mind though. He was always up for any sort of mischief I could think of, and what with me being the oldest of all the cousins. I figured it was my job to educate the rest of the tribe.

As I'd promised them, the box played music as soon as I removed the top. We all listened to it, thinking there was something magic about a silver box that played a song. We got lost in ourselves. And the moment. And the tune. And that's when it happened.

I'd lost track of time. How long had the three of us been missing? I had no idea. Not only that, I let the song play way too long. I was glad Grammie was downstairs in the kitchen, busy cooking something or other. And that's when the three of us heard it. "YOU KIDS GET OUT OF MY ROOM." Her voice floated up from the foot of the stairs. You never saw three kids scramble as fast as we did. I threw the top back on the box and we all went clomping down the stairs.

I figured there was no use lying. We'd been caught. I explained that I had wanted to show the other two the music box because they didn't think I was telling the truth about it. That's when Grammie looked at me with that Grammie face and said, "You thought you got away with being in my room the last time you were here, didn't you?" I must have looked guilty. At least as guilty as a small child can look for she said matter of factly, "I heard the music playing."

Guilty as charged. I do have to admit that there were a few times later on when I ushered other cousins into Grammie's room to show them the music box, but I never left the lid off long enough for the tune to carry down the stairs. Or so I thought. I got caught time and again. The only reason I think I ever got by with it was because we never messed anything up or opened any drawers or sat on her bed or picked up her yarn dog. The most we ever heard from her was:


Gotta love a Grammie like that.


  1. All my magical treasure will be out in the family room for the grandkids to see and where I can keep an eye on them....maybe this will keep them out of my room.

    My mother had a blue metal music box that she kept in her dresser drawer, it was enchanting!

  2. LOVE. love, love, love, love.