As many of you know, my precious grandmother, Maw, passed away in February. We recently began the process of going through her things and organizing her home.
The home where she was born in the front room in 1928 and the home she moved back into after she got married in 1953. The home my mom spent her childhood into adulthood. The home I grew up next-door to, spent countless hours in and was my second home. And the home I spent Christmas mornings, that hosted countless family reunions, coffee talks with Mrs. Bess and Mrs. Mary, and so much more.
This home belonged to her parents, Ada and Pat in 1923. There are 100 years of people’s items in her home; Maw’s parent’s things, her and my grandpa, Mac’s things, and my mother’s things.
That’s a lot of treasure to sort through.
We started keep, sell and donate boxes. It was hard at times to donate or sell her things. We constantly reminded each other that my grandmother wasn’t into “things” and she was into helping people. The items we didn’t have any special connection to or she didn’t have any connection to were donated or sold. That is what she would have wanted; to help others. Whether it was a nice sweater (she was always cold) or a simple bookmark.
Going through her home has been heartbreaking and heart warming at the same time.
It has been fun, gut-wrenching, joyous, sad, bittersweet and an honor.
A few of her items were specially picked out for some special friends of mine who loved her and whom she loved.
Everything was going swimmingly and I had this moment while moving my grandmother’s things into the keep and donate box. Maw had these white, ceramic pigs that she had under a china cabinet. They have been there for as long as I can remember. I went to pick them up and this feeling rushed over me. It’s hard to explain and I am sure some of you have felt it before. It was this feeling of loss and sadness. It was a feeling that made me stop and stare down at the pigs. I picked up two of the pigs, took them into the room with my mama and I said “she’s really gone” and I began to cry. I had never really paid much attention to the pigs and I didn’t know they represented so much to me. I didn’t want to give them away and I decided, standing there, crying with my mama, that I was keeping them.
In a way this helped me to move forward. I have struggled with her passing and it’s like I have expected her to come back. This event helped me to see that while she is gone, I get to keep her in my heart forever. She is with me and she always will be until we meet again.
My family and I discovered so much about my grandmother even though we all were so close and knew her so well. You can really tell what matters to someone when you go through their things. What mattered to her was her family, friends and the good Lord. We found her Bible, which is basically falling apart, and that speaks volumes of her relationship with the Lord.
We found a basket in her closet filled with keepsakes, letters and cards. There were letters from my grandpa’s brother (Russell) to him, postcards and letters from my mom and dad, cards from me and my brother and Valentines from her great grandchildren. We found costumes that I made for church and elementary plays and toys that my brother and I played with as children.
She kept it all.
We discovered items that make you smile and say “oh, this was so her”, such as the orangeTic-Tacs that she loved, the many lighters and packs of tissue she had in her purse and old Kleenex we found in every pocket of every jacket.
We found, well, rediscovered a bottle of whiskey that belonged to her brother Chestene in 1983. A little less than half full. It’s a tad old now, but smells amazing. We all took a sniff, but no one is brave enough to take a swig.
We found funny items as well, like 100 fountain pins, rubber bands, old matches that wouldn’t lite anything, about 15 bottles of Avon perfume (if you know, you know), 10 or more pairs of scissors, more hair brushes than anyone needs, and hilarious notes that I used to leave her if I went to her house when she wasn’t there.
We also found questionable items such as a vial of teeth (that I can only assume are my mothers) that I contemplated mailing to a special friend of mine as a joke. (I didn’t do it….yet.)
This process has been cathartic, beautiful and an honor. Her home has always been a comfortable and safe place for me. Her home is now ready for the next chapter and ready for new memories.
I miss my grandmother every minute of everyday, but I know she is happy and she is smiling. I know she is proud of us for being strong and donating her things to help people or put a smile on their face. Someone, somewhere will love that glass candy dish or that ceramic black cat.
Her belongings will travel far and wide and will be passed on.
They are a little piece of her and she will live on forever.