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Thursday, December 27, 2012

Grandma's Button and Pins a Memory No One Wanted

Christmas is a time of giving and a time of remembering. I have memories of endless Christmas Eves playing hide the thimble with rowdy cousins, memories of waiting waiting waiting for Santa to appear so the opening of the gifts could begin. Every Christmas my Aunt G.G. (Golden Goddess, Gripy Gut, depending on her mood) would send my Grandpa a box of See's candy. See's candy was my favorite candy of all time, as well as my cousin's favorite. When Grandpa got his box of candy, he would hide it in the house so all the grand kids wouldn't eat it all. My cousin and I knew he had some so we would quietly ask him where it was hidden. Initially he would act like he didn't hear us or couldn't make out what we were asking, but with a little persistence he would finally give up the secret with instructions we could only have one piece. We would run to the hiding place with me secretly praying there was a "hairy" chocolate among the bunch. In case you're wondering, I called the ones with chocolate sprinkles the hairy ones (it wasn't anything gross). We would pick out our one piece of chocolate, put the box back in it's hiding place and walk away with just a tad of a smirk.... We would be back.  When we were at Grandma's and Grandpa's I usually stayed with my cousin. She was older, more level headed, but I had a way of bringing her down to my young level like no one else could. In fact I believe I still hold that unique place in her life.  She lived across the garden from Grandma, and it always tugged at my heart that Grandma really knew her. I wasn't jealous, I just remember wondering what it would be like for Grandma to know the secret places in my heart like she knew my cousin. There were a few times though when I would spend the night with Grandma. Grandma wasn't a well woman. Of course after giving birth to 9 kids, who would be. She had sugarbeitis (my word for diabetes) which my imaginary friend also suffered from. I remember she always looked like she was 9 months pregnant but was tiny everywhere else. I guess her stomach got so used to protruding with child, it didn't see the need in going back to it's original state, and really who could blame it. She had silver hair that she wore in a bun, well it wasn't really a bun but kind of a bun, not sure what you would call it. When I spent the night with her, she would sit at her dressing table and carefully take the silver pins out of her hair. I was always intrigued with how long her hair was. It hung down her back, almost to her waist. When she got it untucked, she would hand me the brush and I would gently brush her long beautiful hair. I was in complete awe. Would I ever have hair like hers? I didn't think so. Other than her being sick, the memory that sticks out the most in my mind, is her sitting at her dressing table with her hair flowing over her shoulders and down her back (yea, I'm typing through the tears as we speak).  When Grandma died, the family, which was many, began to change and it has never the same again. Last weekend I went to visit my Red Aunt and my cousin. My Aunt is now living in an assisted living home. When she was moved her stuff was either sold in an estate sale or given to relatives. She had taken care of Grandma and would have had any of the items that wasn't sold after my grandparents died.  I was sitting on the couch talking to my cousin and she pulled out a bag. She had found just a couple of items of Grandma's in her mother's belongings that she thought I might like to have. She pulled out an old jar filled to the brim with buttons. It was Grandma's button jar. The label was scuffed with time, but I immediately knew what it was and a huge lump formed in my throat. Then she pulled out a cup filled with the silver little hair pins Grandma used to put her hair up with and larger pins that were still wrapped in the newspaper wrapping when she bought them.... The lump only got bigger. These were two things that everyone going through Grandmother's belongs had looked past as if they had no value; but they had a tremendous amount of value to me. The things we believe are valuable here on earth varies from person to person; to me nothing is as valuable as those seemingly insignificant memories of watching Grandma at her dressing table taking down her hair, or a jar where she kept every little button that fell off of a dress because a Sharecropper's wife couldn't just go out and buy a new dress when a button fell off or something needed mending.  These items were a precious gift from my childhood. I came home, moved aside a knick knack that truly had no value and gently placed the jar of buttons on the shelf next old photographs from a time far far away.

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