Mémère’s House

For some reason, I woke up at 5 am this morning with some very vivid memories of my Mémère’s house. Mémère was my great-grandmother – my mom’s mom’s mom.

Her house was in Madison Heights, MI on a street called Harwood, if I’m remembering correctly. It was a brick house with an extra lot to the left side, where Mémère had a bunch of raspberry plants.

My mom and her older sister, Marilyn, in Mémère’s backyard.

When you went in the front door, the hallway would turn to the right to bring you into the living room, but immediately to the left was a low, rectangular curio cabinet. Inside, Mémère kept her collection of salt and pepper shakers. She must have had hundreds of pairs, in all different colors and shapes.

In the hallway, there was either some chairs or maybe a couch. I don’t recall this precisely, but I do remember seeing Mémère sitting down in that hallway area praying the rosary.

The living room, I think, was a light green color. On the far right wall, there were two large, oval black and white photos – each showing a portrait of a man. When I asked Mémère who they were of, she would answer “Pépé.” What I didn’t understand as a kid was that they were two different people, and that Pépé could have more than one meaning. One was our Pépé, her husband, who had passed away when I was about a week old. But the other one was Pope John Paul II, our Holy Father at the time. So, yeah, I grew up thinking that an image of the pope was my great-grandfather.

Mémère and Pépé

Once you turned the corner into the living room, the house went straight back. On the left were two fairly small bedrooms, and on the right just behind the living room was the bathroom.

The hallway ended in the kitchen. There was a small table on the left, the refrigerator straight ahead by the back door, the sink to the right, and the stove on the wall opposite the refrigerator. On the counter between the sink and the stove was a large toaster oven, which I thought was really cool; I had only seen the kind where the bread pops up from the top.

One of the things that Mémère was known for was always having tomato rice soup waiting for you when you came over. Mom says that it was very simple: just rice and water and tomatoes. I just remember that there was always a pot bubbling away on the stove and it was delicious. I think I added a bunch of salt to mine – I was really into a lot of salt in my food when I was younger.

Isn’t it interesting how places can leave their own imprint on you, even decades later? I could relay some of my memories of Mémère, but I think I’ll leave that for another blog post. If you have any specific memories of a loved one’s home or a special food item they made, please share in the comments.

Until our next adventure!
— Jenn

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