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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.