Gathering Pieces of Me

Monday, June 30, 2014

When he asked me about the day I spent at my grandpa's house, the only thing I could think to say was "good and hard." 

My grandfather passed away in December, and I haven't been to his home since then. 

That is, until this weekend. 

My mom and step-dad offered to keep our kiddos for a couple days, so I gladly drove them down the turnpike to drop them off. Mom wanted me to come to Pa's house to see if there was anything I wanted, so I gladly went. 

Not only was this house my grandpa's house, but it was also the house I grew up in. My memories in this house are vibrant, raw, and very real. 

As we pulled into the driveway, my mind immediately raced back to late summer nights spent playing hide and seek down the entire street. I grew up on a street full of kids my age (mostly boys) and it seems like we spent every waking hour together. 

We played video games in the front room of that house (hello 007), spent countless hours on the front porch swing, and even more time jumping from house to house to see who had the best afternoon snacks. Every single memory came flooding back as we pulled onto that street. It's funny how that happens. 

As we went through all Pa's belongings, it was was almost like saying goodbye to him all over again, and not only him, but my grammy too. My grammy died of ovarian cancer when I was just a baby. I don't remember her, but I feel like I know her. 

Maybe it's that part of us that holds on to the people who had a part in making us, or maybe it's my heart's desire to have known her that makes me think I knew her. Either way, as we went through Pa's belongings, we went through Grammy's too. 

Pictures and books; pots and pans, and serving dishes. Every piece told a story. A Jenny Lind bed that my mom remembers Grammy searching for because my mom wanted one so badly. A silver roasting dish that I can't wait to cook in. A dozen metal jello-o molds that my mom knows Grammy bought at a yard sale. All treasures I claimed for myself. A part of her, that I wanted to become a part of me. 

And then, upstairs, on my old desk, sat my grammy's typewriter. I'd never seen it before. It must have lived in the attic until my mom finally dug it out. The moment I saw it, I knew it was supposed to be mine. It was like it was waiting for me.  

I will probably never actually type on it's keys, but it was the sweetest nudge from the Lord. A reminder that words and keys and writing are part of who I am. 

And right there, in the bedroom I grew up in, where I had cried so many childhood tears, I cried adult tears, over an old, worn out typewriter. 

I don't know what she typed with those keys. I don't know what she wanted to say to the world, but I know that she typed away on that thing. The keys are worn and ragged. 

Not only did I find her typewriter, but I found her books. Cookbooks and etiquette books. I heard stories about how she threw both my mom and my aunt progressive, come as you are, senior parties. 

She picked up the girls from a sleep-over with all their friends, and sent them to various houses for breakfast and treats (just as they were when they woke up). Those are the kinds of things I want to do for my kids. 

And then I found this, a typed review of a cookbook/diet plan called Candy, Chocolate, Ice Cream and How to Lick 'Em!".  I mean, you know that title makes you want to smile. I love it. If that's a diet plan, I'm on it! 

Folded inside this faded book, was a review written by my grandma...most likely typed out on that old typewriter. 

For the record....and as a side note, anyone who eats 900 calories a day, will probably reach their ideal weight. I'm just saying....

And as silly as this book may be, it literally made my heart want to burst. To see words that she had typed on that old, rusty typewriter that I was claiming as my own, made me nearly giddy. 

And the day progressed like that. Collecting treasures. Hearing stories that I'd never heard. Mourning the life of not just 1 person, but 2. A legacy. A marriage. A family. A story. 

And I know so little about it. I want to know when she used that serving dish. I want to know what she put in it. I want to know what she cooked, what she baked, what she read, what she liked doing in her spare time. 

And as I collected treasure after treasure from two lives well lived, I felt like I began to know her more. Pieces of her that I will treasure came home with me in boxes that I could hardly wait to unpack and spread across my dining room table. 

I wanted those pieces of her, to become pieces of me. I want her legacy to live on through me. 

I'll be honest in admitting that I don't know what that looks like. There is so much about my Grammy and my Pa that I don't know and may never know. But I do know that I am a part of them. Those pieces of her that I found in that house....those pieces of him....they are part of what made me who I am. 

And while I pray that my children want my Fiestaware because it reminds them of all the meals we ate around the table and my vases because it reminds them of the flowers I always had around the house, I pray even more that they want my words and my stories. 

Words and stories that they'll never know or remember unless I take the time to write remind them who they are and where they came from. 

Those old rusted keys of that R. C. Allen typewriter will be that reminder for me. That gentle nudge from the Lord to simply write. Don't over think it. Don't try too hard. Just be honest and open and real and write. 


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