Pandora’s Box

Pandora's Box

In my basement, there is a box filled with a mystery.  It’s one I haven’t been able to examine in any great detail. Actually, it’s not hampered by my ability.  I haven’t been willing to open the box.  I had a quick peek when it came into my possession.  At the time, I was already going through an emotional roller coaster – and the box promised more ups…and a lot more downs.

Pandora didn’t give me the box.

I came into its possession when my father had my grandmother put on a home.

The relationship between myself and my father (or lack thereof) is for another blog…

And that relationship (or lack thereof) resulted in a fracture in the relationship between myself and my grandmother.

This box now contains several years of my grandmothers life.  In her own hand.  The box contains her diaries.

I loved my grandmother. As a child, I spent weeks at a time at her home.  I would stay with her on days I was too sick to go to school.  She lived in the home she raised my father and his twin sister in.  She was widowed when they were fourteen.  My grandfather died of a very curable ailment – appendicitis. He refused medical care until it was too late.  My father became a hypochondriac as a result. 

Gran lived on her own for a very long time.  She was a reader.  She shared her love of books with me.  I would sit in her sun room and read her Readers Digest magazines.  I would curl in her arm chair with a fuzzy blanket, the sun warm on my face.  

She had a wicked sense of humor.  She was particularly fond of dirty jokes.  I remember her telling the one about the priest who was in the home of one of his parishioners and came upon a box of condoms on her piano.  He blushed and asked the lady, who had been widowed for several years, if perhaps she wanted to put them somewhere more…private.  “No”, the widow replied.  “I followed the instructions on the package.  Almost.  They said to put them on your organ, but I only had a piano.”

She was not the best cook.  I remember all her vegetables always tasted like the pot she cooked them in.  And she’d “experiment” with different ingredients – but didn’t have a sense of what should go together.  But her baking was divine.  Cakes and cookies and pastries.  Amazing.  And so fattening.  Butter and lard and sugar in high amounts.  Mmmmmm….

I don’t have any particular memories of her having any “gentleman” friends.  Two of my grandfather’s friends, Bill and Percy, both took care of her after his death.  Bill never married.  Percy had children a little younger than my dad and his sister.  They were regulars in the house at holiday times, but as far as I can remember, there wasn’t a significant male presence after my grandfather.  

She loved costumes and Hallowe’en.  And she always had interesting hats.  She had a box of shoes and costume jewelry that we used to play with.  One year we made a snow family and dressed them in shoes and jewelry.  I have some of her bold gold pins set aside for Flower when she gets older.  Her father’s medal from WWI is in my drawer for Puck.

After my parents’ divorce, our relationship became strained. My father was a “weekend” father.  He liked to keep us to himself, so we rarely saw Gran during that period.  And after my father and I stopped talking, we didn’t speak.

She reached out to me a couple of years before I got the box, when I was still married to my ex.  I used to visit her in her house for tea.  She was already heading downhill at that point.  Her hearing wasn’t what it was.  Her eyesight as well.  She spent most days in her chair, chain smoking, drinking tea and watching her programs.  She was happy of the visits though.  She brightened when I came.

I am like her in many ways.  I love reading and writing.  I credit her with that.  I know how to make a mean cup of tea.  Unlike her, I am a pretty good cook.  But I credit her patient teachings for all my baking abilities.  I have her wicked sense of humor.  I love costumes and Hallowe’en and I have tons of hats.

I went to visit on the way home from the hospital after Bae was born.  She was in the home by then.  Excited for her fifth great grandchild.  My children were the only ones she saw regularly.  My sister lived to far away.  We’d heard that my cousin had a child, but I gather that there were issues.  I brought Flower to see her too.  First visit on the way home from the hospital.  We’d visit on weekends.  She’d give the kids cookies.  At that point, I think she was just waiting…she couldn’t see or hear.  Spent a lot of time in her bed.  She always remembered me when I went in.  But she didn’t always remember everyone else.  I don’t think she knew where she was.  It was hard to watch.

Back to the box.  When my parents were still married, every year, my mother’s workplace would have “extra” agendas from the previous year.  As they were out of date, they’d be passed out.  So every year, my mother would pass one on to my grandmother.

Gran loved to write.  A passion she passed to my father, who passed it to me.  She wrote daily in those books.  To keep her mind active.  To process thoughts.  Much like I do in this blog.

I did flip through them when I got them.  But it felt like an invasion.  She was still alive.  And her innermost thoughts are laid bare inside them.

She died five years ago this January.  Just after Christmas.  She would have turned 97 this year.

I’m beginning to feel like I’m forgetting her.  I need to hold on.  Perhaps it’s time to open the box again.  It’s really hard when you find yourself forgetting someone who gave you so much to remember.  

Image Credit (edited): basketman / freedigitalphotos.net

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