Well, I’m in the process of putting everything back in order in the basement now that the tile is in. I’m organizing and giving things away—lessening the load the shelves must hold. Pens and crayons and paints and paint brushes—all in their proper spot. Notebooks half full of paper have been recycled. Toys the kids have outgrown have been given away. Old books, too. And it’s a liberating feeling, this giving away of things; this lightening of the baggage we carry.
But there are some things from which I’ll never part: My Grandmother’s college yearbook, for example, even though I cannot find her picture there no matter how hard I look. And her copy of the Bobbsey Twins costing thirty cents and inscribed with this message: “Alice you are a dear little girl and I am leaving you a nice little book to read. I know you will have a Merry Christmas. Santa Claus.”
I have a tiny scrap of paper upon which my grandmother wrote a portion of a conversation she’d had with my grandfather. And tucked into a cookbook I inherited from my other grandmother, I found a letter from one of my sisters telling Grandma about the man who would later become my brother-in-law.
I value these things because my grandmothers loved them and used them. I can picture them in their hands—the hands of a small child sitting on a chair reading her new book; the hands of an adult, ready to take on the world; the hands of a mother preparing dinner. These items—three books and a scrap of paper—give me insight into the women who would become my grandmothers.
In my kitchen, I have another thing that used to belong to one of my grandmothers—a candy dish—white milk glass on the outside and smooth pink on the inside with a clear orange glass handle resembling a bent stick. The Christmas I received the dish from my grandmother, my father said, “you know there’s a story behind that dish. You really ought to get it.”
But the dish wasn’t my taste and besides, I had no time for the stories of my grandmother then. I thought I was too busy making stories with my children to make room for the story of the candy dish. And then, my grandmother died and the story of the candy dish died with her.
Today the candy dish sits on my shelf empty. And yet it is full.
The candy dish is full of regrets.
Labels: Consumption, grandmothers, Growing up