Monday, June 16, 2008

Grandma's Doll House

Oh boy... I got an e-mail from an aunt wanting to know if my cousin can have the doll house my Grandma built for her young daughters... I knew that someday I'd have to tell what happened to it.

My Grandma was a crafty person. She always had projects going. Some of the stuff she made was a bit crazy. Like the year she made everyone trains. Mine was on a styrofoam platform with purple ribbon around it. It had places to put my necklaces, earrings, bracelets and hair stuff. Most of the train was styrofoam too. And it was big. It took up most of the top of my dresser. She also made afghans, crocheted twirly legged things with doll and clown faces, weird naked things she made out of stuffed nylons with dimpled behinds that she put on blocks of wood. I still have the one she made me when I graduated from high school. It is wearing a cap and tassle and says 1984 on the wood.

My Grandma had a stroke in either late 1989 or 1990. My uncle, her youngest son, killed himself on July 4, 1989. He jumped off of the Corondado Bridge in San Diego. She was heart broken. She was paralyzed on one side and spent the next ten years in a nursing home.

For much of that time her house was just locked up with all of her things inside. When the time came that it could no longer be kept, my aunts went through and took what they wanted and then had us grandkids do the same. I took mainly kitchen stuff. No one wanted to take Grandma's big doll house. She'd worked on it for a long time and hadn't completed it. We had just bought our first house so my aunt asked if I would take it. Like I said, it was really big and I did not want to take it if there was anyone else that wanted it.

When we moved from California to Mississippi, we moved into a smaller house. We could no longer keep the doll house on the big table my Grandma had. It was a butcher block type table that had wheels on it. She had it on that table so that she could work on it while standing. It helped to keep the kids out of it unless I was with them and they were standing on chairs. The kids were a bit older so we decided to put it on our large coffee table. It just fit. We kept it on that for several years, first against the wall in the living room and then later in the girls' room.

My Grandma had used a glue gun when she put it together and shortly after we got it, pieces started falling off. The glue was just dried out and brittle. She had also had a particle board platform made that she glued the house down onto that no longer held. I would make little repairs here and there but when all the porch posts came off I just put them to the side and thought I'd tackle that sometime in the future. I didn't quite know what to do with the house.

When we moved to Mississippi, the movers made a special crate for the doll house. We did not save it because we just did not have room. After three years we moved into a much bigger house. There was some wear and tear from the kids along with the fact it was falling apart... like the fact that my oldest decided it should have an address and put one next to the front door in black crayon.

Then we moved to Colorado. We requested that the moving company make another crate for the doll house. It was a different moving company and they just sent out a large box that was twice the size of the doll house and put it in that. We were not happy about it but there was nothing we could do at that point. When we unpacked we found that the tower had twisted and splintered away from the main portion of the house and there was no way to fix it. We filed a claim. The mover had noted the missing porch and shingles and the fact that it was loose from the base. They gave us a check for less than $100. Money couldn't fix it though.

We kept the doll house in the basement for several years. The glue holding it all together continued to deteriorate. It took up a huge amount of space since we put it back on its original rolling table. As much as I hated to... we ended up getting rid of it. It made me sick to do it but the fact was that it was falling apart and had been damaged beyond repair. I never did finish it by painting it or adding the doors.

So... I got the e-mail from my aunt this morning wanting it for her grandkids. I had to tell her it is gone. I feel sick about it. I did keep the furniture and dolls. I guess I'll send those if she wants. Mr. Macchiato isn't sympathetic because no one else wanted it 13 years ago. We hauled that thing through three moves... two of them major cross country moves, and it just didn't make it. There's nothing I can do. But, I still feel bad.


Just Me said...

I understand where you're coming from (I'm a sentimental person too), but I also agree with Mr. Macchiato. If you hadn't taken it all those years ago it wouldn't have made it as far as it did.

I think sending her the contents is a nice gesture. They make lovely pre-made dollhouses that she and her granddaughter can finish themselves, and they'll still have grandma's contents.

I have a basement full of stuff salvaged from my mother's house, some of which were my grandma's belongings. I finally gave a chunk of them to my sister. I felt a huge sense of relief because living in my basement meant they weren't being appreicated.

I have truckloads of photos full of people I don't even know. What do I do with them? It's sad that all of those long-dead people have become nameless faces in a box, so I can't bear to simply "trash" them.

noble pig said...

Oh that's too bad! I'm sure it hurts to tell the secret. Not your fault though.

Mabunny said...

Oh, I'm sorry about the doll house, but I kind of stand with Mr Macchiato on this one. No one wanted it 13 yrs ago, and they can mourn int a bit, but can't fault anyone ! Did you ever get pictures of it?

Brenda said...

Maybe you feel bad because you know how sad it made you to lose it. You don't want them to feel it too. You can't help it though. Old things deteriate. (Look at me!) You were an excellent grandaughter to take care of it the way you did. I'm sure she is smiling, looking down and thinking "Oh now you stop feeling bad about that."

Becky said...

Tell your aunt that the dolls that were living in it had a tragic kitchen fire while drying out their clothes in the oven. :) (Since most doll houses don't come with a laundry room, ya know?)

You can always tell her that the dolls narrowly escaped with their lives and rescued some of the antiques. ;) LOL

Sorry...not to make light of the situation..but my mom just gave back the doll house my Uncle made for me from scratch. It even had working electrical. (It was more a miniature house than a "doll" house that I could play with.)

That house never lived with me or my kids as an adult because it was HUGE...and I never had room for it.

I think I am past grieving that house...and am glad it is safely back with the cousin who helped my uncle build it. :)

You are a sweet bean...
The Maid

Memaw's memories said...

You can only do what you can. It's too bad it was damaged. I know your grandma put a lot of time into it.

Heidi said...

I feel so bad for you!! I have the doll house my granny bought for me when I was 6 and I am going to be celebrating the 7th anniversary of my 29th birthday... so you know how old that is!!! LOL mine is in pretty good shape yet, really its in awsome shape but has only been moved from my childhood home to my current home... the downfall I face is haveing 5 boys and no girls to give it to. i am hoping if I ever get a granddaughter, that she will be a girly girl and want to play with it!!

p.s. I got here from CDW!! I love your blog!!

MUD said...

There is a moving rule you haven't heard of yet. Here t'is: Put everything in a box when you move. If by the time you make your next move,it is still in the box throw it away. 13 years for something home made? You did more than enough. Do not feel guilty, pass go and go to the DQ and eat a chocolate shake. I like a Malt better. MUD

Wonderful World of Weiners said...

I'm so glad that even your daughters are organ donors. How awesome.

Hallie :)

Sheri said...

Oh, I'm so sorry about the sentimental loss! I believe it's not so much the tangible things, but the emotional attachment that goes with it.

You've been tagged . . . come play!

thislittlepiggy said...

Would a hug help? HUG

Junebug said...

You did the best anyone could have.

Flea said...

I know how you feel, but Mr. M has a very valid point. You did your very best. Some things just have to be let go.

I'm with Becky on the excuses and MUD on the chocolate malted. Mmm. That will make everything better. Maybe a chocolate malted will even strengthen your voice for a day or two. It's worth a shot. :)