Tuesday, October 9, 2007

A Jar Full of Memories

It's the little things. Simple, unassuming objects of everyday life that hold potent powers of recollection.

These make the best gifts. Give me pause. Like snippets of life handed over to be locked in timeless suspension to be visited and cherished. The smells, the sounds, the feelings. Bits of conversations and lessons learned. Warm moments shared that seemed so ordinary at the time, but gain emotional momentum until they are gilt with a sheen of preciousness and longing.

It is in these ordinary objects that I feel my Grandmother. I know I'm not the only one.

Grannee was the kind of woman that made an impression on everyone she met.

She was the embodiment of elegance. The definition of grace. Manners personified.

And just as comfortable milking a cow or working farm machinery as she was hostessing a dinner party for 30 or working in an office downtown or tickling a grandchild.

I could go on. I'm sure you can tell.

Suffice to say, Gran had so much spirit and love in her that, now that she's gone, it makes throwing away anything... even breath mints I found in one of her purses, agonizing and heart-wrenching. About the only things it didn't nearly kill me to pitch were her bank statements from 1984.

Obviously, my mom has similar feelings, but has been working on becoming more callous about such things out of sheer practicality. You can't keep every tube of rancid, coral pink lip stick or butter dish. There just isn't room and they're just THINGS, right?

So, when she read my post about toothpaste, where I mention how Gran kept her salt and soda in an old cold cream jar her heart fell to her stomach. "If I had only known! I think I remember throwing it away thinking, 'well, I guess she won't be needing this anymore.' Now I wish I had it to give you!"

We both sat there trying not to wallow in disappointment. "It never fails..." and all that. Still, I applauded her at letting go of at least ONE thing and reassured her she could never have known that little jar held such vivid memories for me. I didn't really know it myself until I wrote the post.

But, as REMAINS my Grannee's way, she finds the means to get things done, even from the other side. She's an ambitious one. And generous. And kind. And just as sentimental as her girls.

On Sunday, as my mom continued on her never-ending task of sorting though bags and boxes in her garage... guess what magically appeared among the flotsam...

And on Monday, when I walked into my bathroom, it was sitting on the counter.

I shrieked in disbelief. And now, as I write this, my face is wet with tears, thinking of her and how much this single little object brings her close to me again. I feel her arms around me almost tangibly. I miss her so much, but at the moment, I feel like we've had a visit.

This little jar that is older than I am, that she saved because she thought it was pretty. That she held in her hands twice a day in the most mundane of daily rituals, is now a vessel for my tooth powder and my memories. A place for us to meet as I stare at myself in the mirror and wait for my toothbrush to stop buzzing... and remember her as I polish my smile.

I know she likes that. She is very big on good teeth and a bright smile.

Thanks Grannee... and mom... for the treasure.


capello said...

i envy (in a good way) women like you who have strong female role models and family ties.

my mom died when i was four, she was pretty much out of her mind (and that was even before she had leukimia). both of my grandmothers are cold and heartless and one has a revolving door pass to the mental institution. i don't mean to sound so *mean* when i talk about them, it's just the way it, they way they are.

i think the craziness of the women in my family is part of the reason why i strive to be a really good mom. my childhood was disasterous and i felt like no one listened to me. and even though i never felt like i could talk to my friends' moms, i was always impressed with the relationship they had with their moms.

as odd as it may sound, become a mom gave me that "mother" role in my life i've always wanted. yes, it's within me and it comes from me, but now i have it in my life. and i'm so glad i finally do.

Lisa said...

I have a cookie jar on my counter (you can even see it in some of my kitchen photos on my blog) that wasn't my grandma's but is identical. I looked and looked til I found it on Ebay several years ago. I love it because it reminds me of her. I have her bean pot and her rolling pin as well and my stepmom had promised me that I will get my grandma's spoon holder when she goes, because it reminds her so strongly of Grandma that she can't bear to part with it. I miss my Grandma so much, even though she died when I was 10. It always makes me very sad that she died relatively young and missed so much that has happened to her progeny.

Wendy said...

My mom is the one that has passed away and that I had a wonderful relationship with. And I know how much power all those 'things' have to remind us of the people we've lost. I just sewed a quilt (will post soon- it's a present, so I have to wait) on my mom's sewing table. I thought about her the entire time I made it.

I'm so glad that you get to brush your teeth from your Granee's cold cream jar!

Both Fex said...

first the girls holding hands while racing and now this! you're killing me here unfleet!

Angelina said...

My experience is more like Capello's. Both my Grandma's were/are really mean and definitely not mentally balanced. One was an alcoholic and the one that's still living is one of the meanest people I have ever met.

My mom was not piece of cake either and for most of my youth was pretty checked out of my life. I'm just glad that we have such a strong connection now and that she's made up for ignoring me when I was a kid.

Even though I am not very sentimental I enjoy having little items from family members around me.

So have you already filled up the jar with your special powder?

Richie Designs said...

I have both my grandfathers watches which I cherish.
I wish I could of had my grandmothers as well but a money hungry family member claimed it without inquiry.

I was little and their hands are what I remember most about all of them

Anonymous said...

Wow....how sweet and powerful....made me cry!!! I too have wet cheeks at the moment. You definetely have a flair for word. I thanked your Mom for sharing. Roxanne