A Lifetime, Collected
Case and point: in the basement was the top of a toilet bowel tank, old sink faucets, and a giant drawer full of nails. Oh, and a toaster that is from the 70s. It still works.
Not to mention enough pots, pans, and kitchen utensils to stock a very busy restaurant. I’m really not kidding.
A few weekends ago, I began to help clean out my grandfather’s house. When my grandmother died, there was no need. My grandpa happily still lived there, though he never could bring himself to sleep in their bed. The couch in the parlor (as he called it) was his. I don’t think he could bear to be in the bedroom, because it reminded him of his wife.
It was weird being there, without my grandfather. Not just weird. Incomplete.
Something left the room, when he died. The silence was more defined. There was a noticeable absence, like puzzle with a clearly missing center. Part of the picture of was gone, and the house was less of a home – and more of a place.
It is a thing full of memories, though. The giant wisteria bush, outside, that my grandmother painstaking shaped into a tree. It’s one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever seen.
Most of my memories center around holidays, meals, and watching really bad tv. Once, there was a Japanese puppet show – in Japanese. It was bizarre and fascinating. I was a strange kid, I’ll admit that.
What’s left in that house is a collection of a lifetime. Several lifetimes, in fact. The house has been in the family for a very long time – my great grandparents owned it, originally. I now have pictures of my great grandfather tending the giant garden – which is now a parking lot. Or a supermarket, depending on the direction you’re looking. There’s even a picture of my great grandfather in a suit. He is smirking. I never knew him, but judging by that wise guy smirk, I probably would have liked him.
There’s an overused e.e. cummings poem, “i carry your heart in my heart,” that keeps coming to mind. Because something ended – a person is gone. And whoever that person is – whether the loss is familial or a friend – it physically aches. It reminds us how fragile life is, how we need to forgive more often, and how we shouldn’t take things (people, time, life, and love) for granted.
My grandfather’s gone, but not his memory. Not who he was, or his crazy stories. He was a war hero and a good person. He helped everyone he could, even the neighbor’s kid. He also had a ridiculously awesome sense of humor.