Tuesday, October 2, 2012


You just can't make me happy.  When my grandpa died, they had an auction and no one told me about it.  Could I really have come home with his antique upholstery Singer sewing machine with the motor he attached to make it run automatically when he wanted it to?  No.  My mother gave me a sweatshirt and a couple of curved upholstery needles to remember him by.  I was upset, but really, what would have reminded me of my grandpa?  The Evinrude motor from his yellow boat?

When my grandma died, there wasn't much left.  Most of her things had been sold at the auction after my grandpa died and my grandma had moved into a tiny apartment with all brand new furniture.  My mother saved me her sewing box.  I'm still using her thread.  I like using her thread, but if I make you a quilt and it falls apart, that's why.  Using fifty year old thread probably isn't the best idea, but I just now thought of that. 

When my other grandpa died, I didn't get anything at first. 

When my dad died, I was in a house full of his stuff, so I could have tucked away whatever I wanted.  My mother gave me his books.  I used his books more than once in college when I didn't understand the stupid books my professors wrote and made us buy for their class.  My favorite book of my dad's is the Blaster's Handbook.  Didn't I tell you the story of when he blew up the old stump in the back yard?  Boy, that was fun. 

So, from each of these losses, my family gave me some token.  It was good to have a token to remember them by, even if it didn't initially mean much to me, for example, the sweatshirt.  Yup, a sweatshirt, plain and gray.  Lovely sentiments in a sweatshirt, don't you think?  I still have Grandpa's sweatshirt.

Then, there was my remaining grandma.  Oh, Grandma was a loving woman, a strong and tender-hearted woman that I absolutely adored.  We all did.  Grandma was a pack rat.

Before she died, she began to give things to her three grandchildren.   I was given my dad's teddy bear, a china cabinet with some dishes to put into it, and a couple of quilts.  They were wonderful.  It was exactly what I needed to remember her by.

Then Grandma moved to a smaller place.  My family saved me a bunch of things.  When I came to visit, I shipped them to myself.  It cost about $350.  Then I went to visit again.  Another $200.  One of the items was a rocking chair, a beautiful rocking chair.  Grandma told me not to let anyone too big sit in it because it probably couldn't handle that.  'Just exactly what is too big?' I wondered.  Then, my family sent me another box of stuff.  There was a broken boat, a harness, and a pig scraper among other things in this box.  Do you know what a pig scraper is?  When you think about it, it's gross.  It's to scrape the fur off the pig after a good scalding.  Did you ever wonder why those pigs with the apples in their mouths are so shiny?  They were scraped clean with my pig scraper.  Lovely sentiments.  Thank you. 

Can you begin to see why it's hard to please me here? 

Next they sent me the hog prod and the hog hook.  Now I have the complete set.  I never remember my grandparents having pigs.  Even with the chickens, I wasn't allowed to watch them being butchered.  How is this supposed to remind me of my grandpa?  Again, thank you.

So then, my family went through Grandma's garage, a place that had been abandoned for twenty-five years.  My brother said that raccoons had taken up residence in it.  I washed my hands thoroughly after opening that box.  Everything in it was covered in black soot.  Just exactly what kind of soot was that? 

They keep saying things like, 'We just want to make sure these things stay in the family.'  Okay, I'll do my duty.  I'll keep it. 

Then, my grandma died.  It was very sad for me.  None of those things could compensate for her loss.  It was all just stuff, too much stuff. But my family began to go through what she had in her apartment. 

Last month, they sent me a thumb drive with 94 pictures on it.  Did I want any of this stuff?  There were pictures of packets of needles, cloisonne thimbles, fabric, dolls whose plastic legs had melted, figurines, a red crystal boot, doilies.  I don't know if any of you have noticed, but people just don't use doilies any more. 

It's weighing me down, filling up my already crowded house.  I need storage for this stuff.  My sister said that she doesn't have room for more stuff either.  I don't have room, especially for stuff I don't want.  Yet, we're supposed to keep it all in the family.  How?

I want to say to them, 'It's just stuff.  It won't bring her back."    It won't mean the same thing to our children who didn't know her in the same way.  They'll see it as old family stuff, a storage locker full of antiques that they can't sit on if they're too big, they don't know how to use because they don't butcher pigs, or stuff that's only purpose was to sit on a table that was already too crowded with stuff. 

I guess I understand.  Grandma was the one who loved us best. 

But will it bring back that love to be surrounded by her doilies?

Thank you for listening, jb

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