Friday, August 21, 2009

Bittersweet

My grandma was a thoughtful and at times excessive collector.
She loved all kinds of glasses and dishes and bowls. She faced a basket obsession that honestly turned the closets in her Green Bay home in to miniature wicker warehouses and
survived an antique picture frame phase that infiltrated all the space under the beds in her house.
Her best treasures, however, were always thoughtfully displayed in her immaculate home. My grandma's house was always one of my favorite places. She would serve me cranberry floats in Cranberry Glasses, teach me to dry and artfully arrange flowers from her garden, and roll out the best homemade pie crust I have ever eaten. Her house always smelled like cashmere bouquet soap, featured an impressive collection of doilies, and held a giant crockery pot filled with thousands of pennies. The mattress on the brass bed my grandfather was born in was softer than I was used to, but led to a perfect night's sleep none-the-less. She had pineapple wall paper in her dining room that was slightly crooked and no-one had the heart to tell her. She always kept Jean Nate on the edge of her tub and a toothbrush for my mom in the medicine cabinet. She had "naughty" three legged stools in her kitchen that would tip over if you sat down the wrong way. She owned a real butter churn and a vase of roses made out of porcelain.
Her home was my favorite museum.
Over the past several years I have been slowly accumulating more and more of my grandma's treasures because both her living space and memory are diminishing at a fairly rapid clip. It started with larger items like the brass bed with the soft mattress, my grandfather's roll top desk, and a set of hunt club dishes from England when she moved into an assisted living facility. Then smaller items started coming my way as her circumstances changed: a lamp she bought on the day we got lost together, the cranberry glasses, and a broken piece of depression glass. When she recently moved to an extended care facility my favorite hot chocolate pots found their way to me; when I was a girl I thought they were the most beautiful things I had ever seen. Even though Grandma does not remember much these days I think she would be happy to know some of her treasures and memories are safe with me.
Bittersweet.
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