I went on an abbreviated road trip with my new roomie this weekend. We headed south, picked up some furniture from my grandma’s house, and headed north again with my car, my puppy, and a U-Haul. Even though the trip was really just eleven hours of driving and two hours of standing around, it was freeing in a lot of ways (plus good bonding time with said roomie).
My mom is great. The elder generation of her family, however, is decidedly ungreat. Her mom passed away a week or two before Christmas, and this was the first time I’ve been to her house in a while. Every visit to that house was dominated by painful comments being constantly slung at one member of the visiting group. You felt bad whether it was your turn to be criticized or not. If there wasn’t something negative being said, you knew it was coming in the next five minutes. Being in her house without constant rudeness and anger was strange. It’s just a house now.
Yesterday I started unpacking a box of my grandma’s things that Mom had gathered for me when she went through the house. Among the things was an adorable pair of pajamas that Mom bought for Grandma a few years ago. When I talked to Mom about the contents of the box, she told me that Grandma had actually worn the pajamas. That may sound pretty standard to you, but that’s not how things went with my grandma.
We gave her presents for every big occassion every year. Each present was gushed over, placed back in its box, and presumably never looked at again–each present except for this one pair of pajamas. While it might be incredibly creepy to wear my dead grandmother’s pajamas (they really are cute, I’m telling you), I’m glad to have a positive momento from her life. The pajamas are one item that she didn’t hoard because she was scared of having nothing. They are one item she didn’t look at and cry over because she thought her family was ungrateful. They were actually enjoyed.
In all fairness, I think that Grandma tried to love us. She just didn’t know how. And I did learn from her. I learned to be kind to the people I love, to stand up for them even when it’s difficult, that fear can destroy you, and that it’s important to clean out your closets on a regular basis. Nobody wants your makeup from forty years ago or marshmallows from six years ago (although I totally ate the marshmallows anyway).