Fargo woman goes through with vow she made as a 10-year-old
Now she's the one calling the shots in her very Hallmark home
Editor's Note: This is another installment of Inforum's "Home Stories" where people share what makes their homes unique. If you have a story to share about your home, email firstname.lastname@example.org with details.
FARGO –There are certain things that are just facts about Mariah Bates of Fargo; she works in human resources, has two dogs with hockey-related names (Easton and Bauer) and she might have been the most determined 10-year-old on the block.
The place she calls home–the place where Easton and Bauer now bark excitedly on the back porch at the visiting newspaper reporter– is the home she swore she’d buy before she even knew the definition of the word "mortgage."
A little more than a year ago, she and her husband, Elliot, bought the home her grandparents had lived in for 40 years, and perhaps, more importantly, the young couple is carrying on family traditions that no one dared leave behind.
From bachelor pad to childcare facility
Mariah’s grandfather Doug Gramm purchased the three-bedroom home near Lindenwood Park in 1978. When he married Sandi in 1983, she made it her own, running a daycare center out of the home. The Gramms say it was also a wonderful place to raise their own children: Jason, Michelle and Ryan.
When Michelle grew up and had Mariah, she brought her young daughter to her mother’s daycare center.
“Oh, my goodness. I remember getting dropped off in the morning and my grandpa would come out of the shower and he'd be like, ’who's in my house?’” Mariah says with her best fairy tale scary voice. “I would hide in this little nook. He did it every morning! I loved spending the nights here, too.”
From Hallmark to heartwarming
Mariah also remembers the magical Christmases spent here. Doug and Sandi ran Gramm’s Hallmark in north Fargo until 2012.
Despite the craziness of retail work during the holidays, the Gramm home still became the center of family life.
“We would all be working pretty late at the store,” Sandi recalls of those Christmas eves. “My mom would have all the meals prepared, and my sister, who lived in Moorhead, would have all the cookies there. When we walked in the door the food was ready. We could just enjoy a full house of people.”
But time marched on and in August of 2020 the family dynamic would change. Doug retired from his job at the Fargo landfill and the couple felt it was time to move to the lake. Sandi said it was hard to say goodbye to a home chock full of memories, but it helped to remember something their determined granddaughter told them years earlier.
“She told us from the time she was 10 years old she was going to live here. That was it. She was adamant There was never a question in her mind.” Sandi said.
With Mariah’s husband in full agreement, the couple bought the home that she vowed to buy as a kid.
For Sandi, knowing the owner of her beloved home would be her beloved granddaughter definitely eased the pain of saying goodbye.
“Oh very much so because we do have a lot of memories here. But we still feel connected. Sometimes we'll go through some old pictures of Mariah sitting in the swimming pool or something, so then she’ll snap a picture of her dog sitting in the pool,” Sandi said with a big laugh.
The Bates have made a few changes to the home–ripping up carpet and putting lighting into the basement. Doug and Sandi said it is kind of weird to see changes being made, but it’s been for good.
“She's doing no different than what we did when we bought the house. We went in and we made it our own. She's doing a really good job modernizing the house,” Sandi said.
But Mariah, who admits she’s pretty sentimental, isn’t all about throwing out the old to make room for the new.
“As I've gone through some of these projects, like when we are ripping up this carpet or when I've taken down some wallpaper I actually keep pieces of these things and I want to make shadow boxes,” she said.
Mariah said right away when she bought the house she knew those Christmas–sometimes with 30 people in the house–had to continue. So she did her best to play hostess last Christmas.
“It was nice,” Sandi recalled. “She incorporated my mom here very much so with a lot of pictures and we always have Swedish meatballs.”
“And I attempted that,” Mariah jumps in with a laugh.
“And she did a pretty good job,” Sandi said with a loving look to her granddaughter.
However, the traditions extend beyond the food for this tight-knit family.
“We always had a tradition where while at our dining room table we'd start a round circle around the whole room and everybody had to hold hands and we'd say a prayer and squeeze our hands as we're going around the table,” Sandi said. “We have thankful things. We had things that made us sad, but it all got shared during that time in this house.”
However, some of the most impactful memories didn’t happen on holidays but on ordinary days in the backyard.
“We used to just sit on the swing and sing her songs and tell stories,” Sandi said.
“I do remember that, yes I do,” Mariah adds. “I remember I had a little boombox with a flashing back and I also played a lot of Barbies here.”
However, when the kids moved out, the Gramms took the swing down.
But it’s back.
“It was the first thing that we bought them as a housewarming gift,” Sandi said.”It just made sense.”
As Mariah sits on the swing petting her dogs, she says buying the home she first knew as a little girl has been an interesting adventure – one that she hopes will just keep giving.
"These walls are definitely filled with love."