In search of story

The heiress


My father’s mother was driving him nuts. She would shovel her own snow, she would mow her own lawn with her push mower, she would stay in that house. She apparently did not know that she was in her 70s.

When she finally permitted my father to think he’d prevailed, she wanted speed: decision made today; move tomorrow! I was a young adult at the time, and I found that my age was no deterrent to sense of loss. No more Grandma’s house?

Mourning, I went to help, unprepared for the energy with which Grandma was separating herself from her meager possessions. Panic seized me as I saw her emptying her pantry, and I launched myself into a goalie’s stance between her and the wastebasket. DON’T THROW THAT OUT! was wrenched from me every time she carried a discard across the kitchen. That dented colander, the freebie glasses from movie theaters, her noodle cutter — in the garbage? I don’t think so! Grandma indulged me and, with minumum head-shaking, handed over her cast-offs and, with them, comfort.

My grandchildren love grapes, and I wash their grapes in that dented colander. I see it in Grandma’s lap as she cleaned green beans at her kitchen table with the plastic tablecloth and the salt shaker with the rice in it. I see her cotton housedress and apron. I see behind her the screened door that thwacked smartly when left to close itself.

As I hoist the grape-weighted, dripping colander from my sink, I say to my grandchildren, “This belonged to your great-great-grandmother.”

Secretly I say HA! to my grandma. She might have sold the house but I got the good stuff.

One grandma's trash is another grandma's treasure.

One grandma’s trash is another grandma’s treasure.

4 thoughts on “The heiress

  1. You are very fortunate to have those things of your grandmother. All of my grandparents have been gone for some time now, and from them, I have one ring (my maternal grandfather), one jelly cabinet (my paternal grandmother), a copy of an article written by my maternal grandmother for her local paper, and an incomplete history of the family from my paternal grandfather. But the memories of them are strong and will remain forever.

    • You are right about how lucky I am to have those things. It’s really too bad you don’t have more things from your grandparents since so often the texture of something brings them back in a way. But, as you say, the memories are there. There is great good, I think, in having known our grandparents.

      Thanks for reading and responding.

  2. I often wonder if the owners of these objects that are passed down leave their spirit and essence behind in the worn groves of use. And that can be good and bad, so I like the idea of keeping only the good stuff with the best of memories. Always a joy to read Maureen.

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