Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Flow

We went to my Ady & Granny’s house over the Fourth of July weekend for the first time since last October.

What struck me first was that the house smelled anonymous.

Every house holds the scent of the people that live there but now that my grandparents are gone, the smell that belongs in their house is slipping away.

It was strange to be in their house with their belongings sitting in their rightful places silently staring at me.

“Well then. Here YOU are, but where are THEY?” their things seemed to ask.

I found myself in the basement rummaging around for things I convinced myself I needed like a storage box full of yarn.

You know, because I’m a knitter now.

[SNORT!]

I looked for the old, broken Christmas crèche that everyone said I could take but didn’t have room for the last time I was there.

No one else claimed the poor, little, three-legged lambs.

[Who KNOWS how long they've been limping to Bethlehem!]

Mostly I opened and closed boxes hoping to find one containing the concentrated scent of my grandparents so I could rest my head in it and just breathe them in.

My Aunt Nancy, who was also there, told us on Friday morning that she had organized a party for Saturday night and had invited all of our relatives from both sides of the family.

"I lost count of the guest list when it went higher than thirty," she told us.

[Then we held a little ceremony where we gave her an award for excellence in advanced notice and communication skills. Heh.]

Granny didn't really throw parties.

She only occasionally threw modest family get togethers and when she did she NEVER co-mingled guests from her side of the family with my grandfather's.

I think entertaining stressed Granny.

Aunt Nancy, on the other hand, is more of a go-with-the-flow woman. She ordered an enormous pile of BBQ and slaw, bought a ton of chips and drinks and then got busy enjoying herself.

I didn't count how many family members came, but the house was packed and the rickety back porch creaked under the pressure of bodies.

The front yard was full of people and pick-up trucks.

Every generation of family members was represented.

My children found their places in the large pack of young cousins circling the house with water guns.

There were water fights, chases and races.

The Mayor in particular, had a BIG time.

I can't describe what it was like to watch him run, play and laugh with a party full of people and know that he was related to every single one of them.

It was good.

My Great, Great, Granny used to call her descendants "the sands of the sea."

Standing there, watching The Mayor sneak up on and soak my Great Aunt Kate with his water gun, I focused less on the sand carried out to sea by the receding waves and more on the shore beneath my feet.


31 comments:

flutter said...

*sigh*

jakelliesmom said...

brava. a masterpiece.

JCK said...

Lovely.

GoteeMan said...

I had the privilege of knowing all my grandparents and four of my eight great-grandparents... at my great-grandmother's house, there were two smells that really stuck with me that I loved... she had an old wood stove/oven in the kitchen, and it always had homemade buscuits in it - usually cold by the time I got there, but the smell was wonderful in that oven. The other smell was the noxema she used for moisturizer at bedtime... My great-grandfather always had peppermint sticks (the old Red Band soft peppermint) and Luden's cough drops.

At my grandparents' house, it was apple chewing tobacco and fresh dried apples from the garden... they would cut up apples onto big pieces of tin, lay them out in the sun with screen over them to keep the bugs from eating them, and a day or two later - voila! fresh dried apples.

All of my great grandparents have passed on now, and all but one of my grandparents have as well. I really miss them, especially one grandfather - my papaw. He just died a couple of years ago. He was the most special to me, along with his mother, my grandma Geeber... Her name was Geneva, but to us, she was Geeber. She was born in 1898, and died in 1992. Always loved the conversations we would have... both of them left me full of memories, but with an empty place in my heart that cannot be filled til I see them again on the other side...

J/

Little Monkies said...

One of the best you've written, Jess. Gorgeous.

Pgoodness said...

so nice. sounds like things are coming back together for you.

jeanie said...

Painting a beautiful family memory, knitting in the spirit of your grandparents there.

Ruth Dynamite said...

What a tremendous family you have, Jess. Visible or not, somehow I sense that your loving grandparents will always be present in your life.

Omaha Mama said...

Aw. You made me cry a little.
Sniff.

furiousBall said...

dat was good lady

Sayre said...

Just beautiful...

Above Average Joe said...

I moved into my grandparents house after they had passed. I almost didnt want to move my things in because part of me didnt want to change it.

we_be_toys said...

Sounds like a great party! I love the sand metaphor and where you went with it.

Hope you found a secret stash of "that smell" - I know what you mean, girl!

Lawyer Mama said...

Great post, Jess. So moving.

I lost my grandmother in March and I still can't bring myself to even open the folder with the digital photos I took at her funeral. I only hope I can focus on the here and now soon too.

Magpie said...

there is something awesome about family. i watch my child with her cousins - they just click together.

beautiful post.

Damselfly said...

Very moving.

My aunt and uncle lived just outside of town and had a pink house on a huge yard. Their house always smelled like a mix of bacon and dust.

Corgimom said...

Give yourself a Perfect Post award, right now.
Can I send you the cow from our creche which bovine cannot remain upright? Maybe he and the lambs could help each other along...

Dawn said...

Wow Hon - BEAUTIFUL piece. I'm with Flutter - *sigh*

This made me smile. Thank you.

Scientific Lutheran said...

BEAUTIFUL.

I love your imagery of standing on the shore, it spoke to my heart.

soupisnotafingerfood said...

This reminds me of going through my grandmother's house after she died. I brought home so much stuff that, in hindsight, WHY did I think I needed her bag of unfinished needlework or some random blank notecards? Because they were HERS, that's why.

Sniff.

carrie said...

Ah, this is what it is.

Nicole said...

Oh the smell, you've captured it with your writing. Thanks for the lovely read and the memories of mine that were stirred up.

Anonymous said...

Jessica, I have been waiting for this post to be assured that it is ok to go back to Mom's house. We will go there in October and I am still not sure how I will deal with it. I looked at Nancy's pictures and cried just seeing exactly what you described about Mom and Dad's things. Just sitting there. I too remember Granny Ruby's sands of the sea as a matter of fact that is what I call my students that I work with. I am glad you can see the tides turning. I love you all.
Aunt Candy

Aliki2006 said...

This was beautiful.

My mother and her brothers have not touched my grandmother's apartment since her death last summer. Even her housecoat, apparently, is still hanging on the coat rack. I understand the desire to preserve, but I do think it's important to embrace what the new life is like--to celebrate the lives of your loved ones as they appear now, interlaced with those still living.

Emily said...

sigh.

My own sand is blowing in, today, to settle in my yard for a few weeks.

Tabba said...

breathtaking, jess.

simply breathtaking.

Jenna Consolo said...

This was like a movie scene. Complete with emotion.

Fairly Odd Mother said...

I can conjure up the smell of my grandmother in an instant when I think of her. Thanks for reminding me of this.

The Sour Kraut said...

So beautiful...I loved this post.

Kelley said...

I couldn't go back to my maternal grandparents home after they died (3 weeks apart).

My paternal Grandmother lived in a nursing home.

This would have been something lovely to cherish.

Thankyou for sharing with us babe, it really touched me.

moosh in indy. said...

I know that smell.