To whom it may concern: This blog post should not be passed on to my parents, thank you. :)
Last November was a milestone of sorts. That was the month that Tim and I made a trip back to New York to take care of the things that were left behind in my parents' house when they went to the nursing home.
It was a hard time and an emotional time. It was hard because there were so many possessions left there that needed to be gone through and decided upon. In a matter of only a few days (3 to be exact) we had to sort the things that needed to be saved from the things that needed to be sold. They had lived in that house for 40 years. My mother was a collector of *everything*. If you gave it to her, she kept it. And, her house reflected that.
During the days that we were there some decisions were easy -- no thought to it at all -- other decisions were harder. We sold what could be sold and threw out what could be thrown out and kept what we thought should be kept...at least at first glance. The things that were kept would have to, in time, be gone through again and sorted once again. In the interest of time we took home a lot more stuff than I had ever anticipated since there wasn't time to thoroughly evaluate then the value (or lack of value) of what remained.
I remember the Saturday evening we were finishing up things at the house. The day leading to that final evening had been busy and exhausting, both physically and emotionally. Everything we could sell was sold. Everything we were bringing home to Kentucky was jammed...uh, I mean, packed in the van. We were ready to begin our journey home. I had taken pictures around the property to be able to "remember" and to help my children "remember" one day. It was that house they had all been visiting since their birth. I want them to remember.
As we were leaving for the last time I saw some very old bowls sitting on a shelf by the back sliding doors. There were three of them. Earlier in the day I thought I would bring them home with me since my sister and brother didn't want them. The truth is that we didn't know the history of the bowls. Didn't know who they once belonged to or why my mother had kept them. But then again, we didn't know WHY she had kept most of what she had. Taking the bowls home to Kentucky wasn't going to bring clarification on their history so I gave them a last glance and left them sitting on the shelf. We got in the van and backed down the driveway one last time and beeped the horn in a final goodbye, just like we always did when we were leaving to go home after a visit to New York. As we drove away I held my breath to stifle the sobbing that was just beneath the surface. Through my tears I looked one last time at my childhood home, knowing there was no returning.
As we drove the quiet was broken by my ringing cell phone. I cleared my throat and tried to answer the phone so as to not give away the fact that I was on an emotional edge.
It was my mother.
She had called to find out where I was and when she learned that we were on our way to get something to eat she asked, "Did you get the teapot off the top of the refrigerator?"
"Umm, no. Why?" I questioned.
"Oh, you have to get it." She insisted.
"Why? Whose is it?" I questioned again.
"That belonged to your father's mother....I think."
"You THINK? What does THAT mean? Is it or isn't it? You don't know?" I asked sarcastically.
She then insisted it WAS my grandmother's teapot and that I had to go back to the house to retrieve it.
I was not happy.
Maybe it was that we were exhausted after a very long day. Maybe it was that we were feeling grumpy because we hadn't eaten since early that afternoon. Or maybe...just maybe, it was the fact that she was wanting us to drive all the way back to the house to take yet one more thing home with us when she is uncertain whose teapot I was even getting. She would have had me on going back to get the teapot IF she hadn't said, "I THINK"!
So after we ate some dinner we ventured back once again to my parent's house to get the teapot. While inside getting the teapot I spied again the stack of three bowls I had previously left on the shelf. Thinking I was going to get yet another call questioning me if I had brought the bowls, I decided to bring them along for the ride back to Kentucky...with the teapot.
For months after being back home the boxes that journeyed from New York to Kentucky sat in our garage. They were waiting for me. Waiting for me to be ready to look at them one more time and make decisions about their fate.
Early this summer I was was ready. I was ready to look, to feel and to make decisions and boy did I! Enlisting the advise of my good friend, Melinda, I wrote her an email titled "What Would Melinda Do?" In it I confessed my dilemma with the dreaded teapot. What do I do with a lidless, not so attractive teapot (sporting a splash of silver paint on spout) that my mother THINKS belonged to my father's mother? I eagerly waited for her reply and I was not disappointed. Melinda has good advice and a sense of humor and between the two I can't help but to love her! These were her wonderful words of wisdom....
"Only my humble opinion: A lidless, unattractive teapot of questionable origin deserves a photo of itself for history's sake, to be placed in a scrapbook with the title: This teapot may have belonged to great grandma ________, but probably not."
And that, dear blog readers, is just what I am going to do. :)
A little P.S. to the story.....
After I had taken a picture of the teapot and sent it on its way to a new home (a.k.a. Goodwill) I came across a journal of my father's mother. It was truly her journal -- no "I think" about it. It was dated January 1915 which was 12 years before my father was born. Although it is difficult to read because of the faded pages being written in pencil, it is fascinating to see.
When Tim saw it he said, "I can just see your grandmother sitting down after a long day and writing in her journal and sipping a cup of tea!"
He tried to make me feel guilty but I felt no guilt in giving away the teapot. :) The journal I kept. The three very old bowls from my mother's house? Well, I still have those and am trying to make a decision about them. If only my mother had added "I think" when she told me who they belonged to I might have been able to part with them as I did the teapot. :)