20 September 2008

What's in a Thing?

Lately, "things" have taken on a whole new meaning.  

Once you lose someone you love, things become very important.  A grocery list isn't just a layout of items, it's a way to remember that person's handwriting.  A ring isn't just a ring, it's a symbol of that person you can carry with you every day.  A snapshot becomes a precious commodity.  Even little things like spoons (my grandmother had very particular attitudes toward regular spoons and soup spoons) and fuzzy socks (we shared a mutual love of fuzzy house socks) and games (Scrabble) become a source of memories and rumination. 

For my family in particular, certain foods are now sacred.  My grandmother's love of jelly became a joke in our family:  If you came to visit grandma, you were probably going home with a jar of jelly.  I always had one jar in my refrigerator and another ready and waiting in the freezer.  In the recent power outage (which still hasn't been restored....), I lost the entire contents of my fridge, including my last jar of jelly made by my grandmother.  This was enough to send me into a fit of racking sobs for 15 minutes.  

Other things will cause me to stop in my tracks and reflect upon her:  red roses (while she loved all flowers, these were her favorite), hummingbirds (she could watch them for hours), boxes of chocolates (a necessary luxury...she could savor a box for a month), making and eating pie (a shared hobby...we loved fruit pies and hated pumpkin), going to the beauty parlor, vegetable soup...and on and on and on....

I have been staying at my grandmother's house, spending time with my grandpa and pretending to do schoolwork.  And something about being surrounded by her things is so incredibly comforting to me.  Sleeping in her bed, wearing her pajamas, seeing her pictures and handwritten address book, the knick-knacks she loved....all of those things make me feel like she's still here, at least a little bit.  I constantly remember her because her memory is literally everywhere.  Maybe that's morbid, but it comforts me.

But I know tomorrow I will have to go back to my big, empty, powerless apartment in Louisville.   Normally, I love returning to my apartment because it truly has become my home.  But this time, I don't want to leave.  I want to be here, with her things.  It sounds ridiculous, but I feel close to her if I'm surrounded by everything she loved.  Going back to Louisville will be a reality check--she's not here anymore.  I can't just pick up the phone and call her, I can't just hop in the car and drive to her house.  And as I sit in that big and empty apartment, there won't be as many reminders of her.  

My mom and I had planned to make jelly tomorrow at my grandma's house...until we learned that she had made jelly this past summer while we were on vacation.  She was going to give it to us at Christmas.  

So maybe it's just a few jars of jelly.  But you had better bet that I will cherish every last bite, just as she would have. 


legaleagle2009 said...

OH Katie!! You are not silly at all! One of the worst things about our memories is how quickly things fade. Its those precious things that we surround ourselves with that keep memories alive, and your grandmother too.

I am so glad you got a few more jars of jelly...I almost burst into tears for you when you said you lost your last jar :( But know that as long as she is in your heart, she will live forever.

LucieLu said...

This post makes me think of when Mombo died. At first Lacy kept everything she owned - which is a lot, I am telling you. Eventually she came to realize that those things are not what made her mother and she was able to separate the things she wanted to keep from the rest.

About a week ago I found one of the "things" from Mombo I have always kept that would seem silly to a lot of people. It's a post it note from a few months before she died. On one side are some phone numbers - Lacy's, mine, Austin's. and his girlfriend at the time. On the other side it says "for when we get together soon." I don't think we all got together again before she died but now it brings a smile to my face because I have come to accept how we are all connected.

Katie said...

right now the things i can't let go of are the things i know she loved so much: simple knick knacks and even gifts we gave her. she took such pleasure in everything, and she appreciated details like bright colors and different shapes.

Becca said...

What a nice post. Of course, it makes me think of my own grandmother - who, like yours, taught me a lot about life and inspired me a great deal.

I, too, love my grandmother's home, and associate it and all of its many contents with her. I am a person who attaches meaning to material objects (one word: blankie).

Thanks for the nice reminder of much people mean in our lives - and how deep family love goes. I am thinking of you.

(Ralph) Ashby Barnes said...

I still have my grand parent's addresses in my address book. Even though I write them in pencil, I can't really erase them.