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.