The other day was especially difficult. I’d had a falling out with my husband that shook the foundation of my life. I wasn’t sure what to do really. All I could think about was to go ‘home’ as a way of trying to grasp the roots of it. So I packed up my son and my niece and went up north to see my Grandmother.
Going back ‘home’ is sometimes hard for me. I came from a town with no more than 225 people in it and my memories of it are so beautiful that sometimes it is hard to face the reality of what it’s becoming, a charactercher of itself. We were all raised in parts in my Grandmother’s Home and when anything awful happens we all go back there as if drawn back into our element regardless of where we are or what is going on, the door is always open for us.
So I went back.
My Grandmother isn’t doing so well, the years are getting to her and although she is still determined to work twice a week, she has a hard time getting around. This is part of my difficulty going back because it’s hard for me to see my Grandmother that way. She is the beginning of all of our lives, the significant piece that held us all together. When we need to remember who we are, remember where we came from and the essence of family – she is always there to remind us with her kindness and stories of our lives. Even my tot, who hadn’t remembered her before, was so excited to see her because she is Gramma – the big capital G Gramma.
That afternoon was spent with my Grandmother giving me family treasures. She gave me a little glass cup that was my Great Great Grandmother’s candy dish and a tiny little booty that was handmade with white (now manila) and pink lace into a pin cushion from her Grandmother as well. There are even little pins still in it, old old pins that once made the dresses of the generations before me. She then told me to pick anything from the shelves that I wanted, she wanted to give things away while she was alive so she could tell the stories. She has so many little pieces.
Although my niece was delighted to go through all the memories and take some home, I couldn’t bare to do it. I told her I couldn’t take anything out of the house, that I understood the heirlooms she had given me so they wouldn’t get lost, but anything else was subtraction. I wasn’t having a great day with the concern over my husband, let alone to feel as if I went back home just to take a part of it away. I wrote about my Grandma’s house awhile back, so you can see I’m pretty passionate about keeping it the way it is. It’s necessary for our generations.
She told me, “You see how happy those things make her?” As she pointed to my niece. “I want that, someone happy to have my little things and keep the stories.” She wasn’t just passing on little ceramic bunnies, but the stories of where they came from. I told her I’d be just as joyous at receiving anything from her, but I still couldn’t bare it. I hope to go back and have her tell me the stories of each one and then I can just type them up for that inevitable day and everyone would know that they were special. She’s afraid that they’ll just be seen as what they appear, knick-knacks, and not memories. That was for another day though. I helped my niece wrap up her little trinkets and put them in a box to take back home with her and watched my son shake the whole house by jumping around in delight.
I did take something back home with me though, the softness of her hands that are bent from ages of work. The feel and smell of her near me as she hugged me. The open and honest smile as she watched the children play and be filled with curiosity of all the little things in her home, as we once were when we were little. I took home the stories.
I cleaned off the little glass cup that was held in the hands of my Grandmother, my Great Grandmother and my Great Great Grandmother. I plan to put red hots in it, the candy my Grandma said she was always given by her Grandma. One day when I’m older, a Grandma myself, I will tell the story. I’ll remember that my Grandmother gave it to me on a day when my family almost fell apart and how this small dusty little glass that seemed so unimportant, was the extraordinary piece that put it all back together.