Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Pieces of Home

I'm not sure when it happened.

Those of you who have read this blog more than a few times are aware that my relationship with my family isn't the closest, for several reasons. I love them, and they are family, but we've just never been that close.

My mother's mom, Grandma M, lived just down the street from us growing up (and by "just down the street", I mean within 20 minutes. You've gotta realize it was rural life!). Because she and my mother, her only child, had an unhealthily close bond, I never really bonded with her OR my mom. Yet I do remember special times at Grandma's house, the love that was apparent, and the fact that she always cut out the "Family Circus" comics for me to read every week. She'd make them into little booklets for me.

She started having "episodes" when I was in elementary school, and eventually when I was in high school she moved to a nursing home in town.

And when I was a senior in college she died.

I have lived my life in a way that I can say I have no regrets--but if there's one regret I have it's not saying goodbye to her. I wrote a raw poem about it soon after she died. Maybe I'll share it here someday...I was in college and she was in the hospital over Christmas vacation. I had spent most of my time back "home" during my 4 years of college in the hospital waiting rooms, had spent much of high school there too. Jasper Memorial--I could give you a tour. Anyway, I didn't think this time was any different and I had to rush back to school for student teaching that semester...she died a few days after I was back on campus. I remember Dad telling me NOT to come to her funeral, but I did anyway. Really, how could I NOT?

That regret was the desire that spurred me to drive hundreds of miles to see my Grandma B the following spring after Dad called me to tell me the doctors had given her hours to live. I'm thankful I was at her bedside at least.

Anyway, back to Grandma M...I literally drove into town for the funeral and then sped back down to try to make up the time in student teaching. A few months later, during Spring Break, Mom had me go through her old stuff and see what I would like to keep. I'd already been using pots and pans from her house in our college apartment, but now that they were selling the house it was ALL fair game.

I went through and selected a few things and honestly forgot all about it. Moved to an
apartment in Hendersonville, bought this house a year later in '04...I brought some of her furniture that I had laid claim to -- a few end table type things, an antique vanity, small antique rocker, and a couple of chairs -- but I didn't give the other stuff a second thought.

It wasn't until this past Christmas that Mom said "You know, you have boxes of stuff downstairs that you might want to look through."

And treasure was found. Old dishes, cups, saucers, a small oil lamp, figurines...

I remember eating out of some of them when I was a little girl.

And sometimes these days, when I need some comfort, I reach for a "Grandma" dish.

There's something about eating cereal out of one of these bowls that feels right.

Something about putting my pop tabs in this old teacup that makes me smile.

Spooning sugar into my morning coffee is so familiar.

And I love serving veggies or appetizers on this platter.

I'm not sure why. I've never had that strong a connection, never wanted that strong a connection.
But as much as I've tried to deny it...it's there.

A little piece of me is in every piece of furniture, every dish, every painstakingly put together booklet of comics.

There are plenty of moments in my childhood that I want to forget.
And these are memories that make me smile.



Soon to be Mrs. M said...

I am so glad you have those special memories of your grandmother. What a lesson for all of us to cherish those special people in our lives. Thanks for sharing.

Brooke said...

I had a special connection to my great - grandmother (i was a sick kid and with my mom (& dad) and grandmother (& grandfather) working my great-grandmother was the only one that could watch me that year.

when she died, i was the only great-grandkid that helped clean out her house. i kept some things because my heart couldn't bear to see them get thrown away.

since then, i've cleaned them up, changed them up (with spray paint, new cloth, etc) and now my cousins are asking "how did you get all her stuff" and it takes all that i have not to answer "its not stuff, its her heart, and you never cared until it became nice stuff."

okay so i've just hijacked your blog comments...sorry. all of that to say it does say something about your relationship that you took her things and cherished them.

Atomic Lola said...

This is a great post! The best stuff is the stuff that has stories. I just love the trinkets and dishes and whatnot that was my grandmother's. Beats picking it up at a flea market. You feel the connection.