NORMAN — My mom always wanted a dollhouse. I asked my brother, a woodworker, if he thought I could build one. He just laughed and offered to help.
The project happened with my Aunt Margot’s help. I knew that my mother and her two sisters had spent part of every summer at their grandfather’s house in Holly, Mich.
Her recollections of the house during those Depression-era summers came to me in a 10-page letter with a floor plan, magazine pictures and a small watercolor painting. Though she had not been in this house for almost 50 years, her memories were extraordinarily clear and proved to be uncannily accurate.
Building began. Packages and phone calls between Massachusetts and Oklahoma were frequent, with repeated trips to the dollhouse store.
Finally, Christmas was near and the shell of the house was complete in Massachusetts. Because the house was a scale model of a real house, it was fairly large.
Lyle had planned carefully to be able to get it through the doors of his house but had not figured as exactly for his Mitsubishi. Last-minute adjustments had to be made for the trip to Michigan.
Arriving from Oklahoma and Massachusetts, together we smuggled the house into our sister’s sewing room. Hidden under a quilt, there it sat until the hubbub of Christmas morning package-opening was complete.
We herded everyone into the sewing room. As the house was unveiled, Mom stood there, silently, for what seemed an eternity.
“Well, do you recognize it?” I said.
“Of course, it’s Grandpa’s house.” Repeatedly, we explored the dollhouse and listened to Mom’s memories of the original.
Once Christmas was over, my sister and mother decided to go to Holly to look at the house. It was still standing but a bit shabby. While they stood on the sidewalk gazing, a young man emerged. When mom explained who she was, his excitement was evident.
He had bought the house with hope of restoring it. He invited them in, and there, sitting on the TV, was my grandmother’s high school graduation picture. Luckily, his desire to restore the house led to several tours of the house during family reunions before it was razed.
For more than 20 years now, my mom has worked on the dollhouse, decorating it as she remembers it. My siblings, the grandchildren and now the great-grandchildren love to visit my great-grandpa’s house.
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