My paternal grandmother did not specifically designate recipients for any of her personal effects I guess they would be called. At least she did not will any to me. After she passed, it was “ask you uncle (executor/trustee) if there’s anything you want.” I couldn’t think of anything in particular. Partly that I couldn’t think of what there was to ask for, also there weren’t really any specific Things that I associated with her – I mean that in a good way, I have memories of places and activities that make me think of her – and also that I’m trying to destufify my own life. OK, there may have been some things that I wouldn’t have minded having, but they’ve either gone to others who wanted them more or are just staying at The Ranch for everyone.
For a while there were things at the Menlo house, it felt sort of like a garage sale. I think most of the “heirloom” type stuff had been spoken for at that point, so it was this surreal space of The Family Things vs. it’s only stuff. Some of the things seemed super random and no one knew what the story of why Grandma had them. She probably didn’t even know anymore herself. I took a bookshelf, not for any emotional attachment, but lord knows I can use more space for books. It seems like it might be homemade, but I keep forgetting to ask about the story.
Then I did find a couple other things that I wouldn’t have thought to ask for, but are more of Grandma than a bookshelf – a letter opener and a Spanish-English dictionary. My Practical Mind could also sneak these by the destuffing filter as things that I’ll actually use, or even if I don’t, they are small. I definitely use the letter opener. Some days I can remember Grandma using it, other times I’m not sure. Either way, it’s a horse, which reminds me of her. The dictionary also makes me think of her, and how she and her parents lived in Argentina for a while when she was young, and how I wish I’d asked her more questions about that. It’s the size of the Japanese-English dictionary I carried in the pocket of my school smock during my year there in high school. Somehow that makes me feel some sort of connection, although Grandma’s dictionary was first published in 1957 with the Eleventh reprint, which I suppose is what it actually is, is 1965, which would be a different era in her life. I didn’t realize until I was paging through it at home that there are leaves flattened in it. Who knows why those leaves or where they are from, or why in those spots – an unexpected mystery message from the past.
Although, like so many things in life, and Things – the message, the Meaning – ends up being what we make it to be.
On what would be her 102nd birthday.