My Grandmothers’ Bedrooms

Is anything more intimate and personal than a bedroom?

My grandmothers have both been on my mind this weekend. Starkly different, they were both God-fearing women who had much different but equally fulfilling lives. I never knew a great deal about their early upbringing aside from a few scattered stories shared throughout the years.

Their bedrooms held parts of them they held close to their hearts. Both had small cardboard boxes tucked away in niches, filled with tiny black and white photos of a life before marriage and children and grandchildren.

My maternal grandmother shared her room with my grandfather until she passed away. It was not a room I entered often. It was not off limits, but there was an unspoken veil of privacy that cloaked the doorway.

She had a large dresser with a tilting oval mirror, the surface cloudy as the silver backing broke down. I wonder what she saw in the reflection returned as she stared into the wavy glass?

A hairbrush, comb, and hand mirror laid just on top alongside a glass dish with wide hairpins she used to contain her wispy grey hair.

Beside the dresser stood her foot treadle sewing machine. I am not sure I ever saw her sew anything except the quilts she made by hand. The large pineapple four-poster bed was always made neatly with the slightly faded white chenille bedspread.


My paternal grandmother, seventeen years younger than my grandfather, slept downstairs while my grandfather slept just at the top of the stairs. We often passed through her room to use the small bathroom just off the utility room that adjoined her bedroom.

Until this exact moment, I never thought about when and where my grandmother bathed. There was no tub downstairs and I never remember her going to the bathroom upstairs. But of course, I was a child and most likely never paid attention to such things.

A tall cedar wardrobe stood in the corner where her dresses hung. The drawer at the base of the wardrobe housed a cardboard Whitman’s chocolate box filled with her jewelry. The pop-beads were my favorite. Underneath the liner of the chocolate box was a small black bag that held six well-worn silver dollars, now tucked away in my safe deposit box.

A small shelf in the utility room held dainty shoes with short heels and ankle straps. Hats with netting secured by rhinestones sat on a shelf above.

Atop her dresser sat two antique bubble glass silhouettes framed in gold filigree. Portraits of Blue Boy and Pinkie hung on the wall. In the drawer were flat boxes of delicately shaped stockings which unfurled into the perfectly shaped leg. My grandmother would roll them at the base of her knee.

I have fond memories of applying Absorbine Junior to the bottoms of her feet after a long day. I wonder if she felt the arthritics pangs I now feel myself.

When they were both alive I treasured my time with them, both so wise, so intelligent, so matter-of-fact. At that age, I never imagined feeling the same aging pains they must have experienced.

I never questioned their judgement and their wisdom. I could never imagine growing into such wisdom and undeniable confidence. I cannot imagine they ever questioned their ability to advise and lead as I sometimes do. Did they ever question their wisdom and pray they knew the right things to say?

Was their bedrooms their sanctuary? I am not sure women of their generation thought much about having a sanctuary. Their role was to always be there anytime anyone needed them.

I asked a lot of these strong women and they always delivered no questions asked. I only hope I can show to others even half the strength, kindness, and wisdom they afforded me. I was doubly blessed.


47 thoughts on “My Grandmothers’ Bedrooms”

  1. A beautiful post Maggie! I can see the little Maggie investigating the little treasures here and there in those rooms, such an intimate exploration.
    I loved your term matter-of-fact in describing them. I think of this with my grandmother and my mother as well. Perhaps they went through so much with the wars they lived through that it put all the petty things in better perspective.

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    1. Thank you, Dorothy. My grandmothers both experienced more than I think I could even imagine. My maternal grandmother went to the Phillipines with my grandfather to live as a new bride. What a culture shock that was. My other grandmother’s father abandoned them and her mother died leaving her to raise her siblings. The challenges seem so overwhelming to me. I do think the items they held close to them were meaningful in a way I may never understand.

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  2. Sweet reflections on these women Maggie! There’s some irony as well here- I’m working on a post for the HoTM this week about one of my grandmothers! They seem to be on a lot of minds right now.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I look forward to reading your post. Maybe it is the anticipation of the changing seasons? My grandmothers seemed to live by the seasons more than we do today.

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      1. The one I’m focusing on, my paternal granny, certainly did! And as you noted- mine were also starkly different in almost everything they did in life.

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  3. Lovely post Maggie you took me into both of those rooms… Thank you.
    Being the youngest of a large family of parents who did not marry young I don’t have any real memories of Grandma’s… I think I missed out 😁😁

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    1. A lot of children never meet their grandparents. I am fortunate to remember both and equally blessed to be a Grandma to 6 (soon to be 7) grandchildren.


  4. Maggie! The oval mirror and the wavy glass, losing the silver? I hadn’t thought about that image from my grandma’s bedroom for years and years…until your post this morning. So many wonderful descriptive moments in what you shared. Thank you for all of it. 💕

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  5. I have some of the same questions Maggie, did the people I looked up when I was young, did they have the same questions that I have now? They seemed so sure of themselves, they seemed to know the answers to everything. I feel like I have the answers to nothing. Ha, ha. I’m sure they had some doubts, but they definitely handled it better than I do now. Or maybe, that’s just the way I remember it. Who knows.

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  6. Such great memories Maggie. Sadly, I only knew one grandparent, my maternal grandmother, and she was not a pleasant lady! She was bitter and rude to all and sundry and spent most of the time that I remember her with her eyes closed sitting in front of the fire. I try to take a kind view that she may have suffered great trials and tribulations that made her that way. I often fail!

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    1. I understand, Peter, and realize I was fortunate. My mother-in-law often talked about how much she disliked her grandmother and how unkind she could be. I am only sorry you had a similar relationship. Finding grace for someone who treated us poorly is not always easy.

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  7. I loved this post—it takes me right back to my childhood memories of a maternal grandmother who sounds a lot like yours. Sadly, she passed away when I was nine, but I have fond thoughts of weekly Sunday dinners and brand new white sandals and patent leather Mary Janes that my widowed mother could ill afford. She certainly knew how to make a small heart sing. Thanks for the bringing back lovely memories Maggie.

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    1. It is amazing how those memories stay with us. Special people have a way of making our lives feel so special. I am so glad you have those memories, too.

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  8. Sweet reflections on these women Maggie! There’s some irony as well here- I’m working on a post for the HoTM this week about one of my grandmothers! They seem to be on a lot of minds right now.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Wonderful memories. Isn’t it amazing that when we think back on people and places that it all comes back just like it was in real time. I’ve done some writing on both my grand-mas and they were so different from each other, too. 🙂

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  10. What a delightful exploration and post! I love the delicious details you included about these women and their bedrooms. Especially the six silver dollars that you still have. I feel so warmed by the strong women (and you) reading about them. Thank you!

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