I’m sure I have a lot of old things, I usually never throw much away unless it’s broken or I’ve out grown it; but even then I might still hold on to it. But there are a couple of thing’s that I’ve acquired in the last 3 years that I plan on holding on to until I can pass them down, now that I think about it, I might not pass them down. They have no meaning to anyone else except for me.
The first item I took from my grandma’s house on the evening just before I returned home from her memorial was a cute little photo album, or so I thought. Now you have to understand that my Grandma Mary was a very stubborn, straight-forward woman who came across as a bitch to most people, but this woman would do anything for anyone. If you crossed her, it wasn’t a bridge that was rebuilt very quickly. She taught me to trust my instincts and gave me the courage to tell people to, “fuck off”. She also taught me that it’s important to take time for yourself and water the grass at the same time. She unfortunately also taught me that you have to take care of yourself, because she didn’t. When she was diagnosed with cancer, she died 7 days later. Her delicate frame was riddled with the life taking disease that plagues my family. My grandma didn’t leave me a chunk of change, she didn’t pass down some antique jewelry, heck I didn’t even get one of her pots. Instead, she left Easter eggs if you will, around the house. Maybe not intentionally, but each of us kids found something that she stowed away for us one day.
I found a cute little box made of cardboard, embossed with pastel, yellow, pink, purple and blue plaid kriss crossing the front, inside a cupboard in the head-board of my grandparents bed. In the center it say’s, “Happy Mother’s Day.”
Inside I found a bunch of random items. Most of my family would think it was trash, but to my grandma, it meant something. It meant enough that she found a box and stored everything inside and added to it as the years passed.
The first item is an old envelope containing letters I sent her for various reason when I was under the age of 13. She use to tease me that she’d love me until I became a teenager. (She loved me even more once I became a teenager) These were letters sent via snail mail. They often started with: “Dear Grandma. I love you. I like you…”
Next were a couple of wallet size pictures of me with my parents when I was only 2 weeks old, a picture of my mom when she was in high school with her pencil thin eyebrows and ‘surfer girl’ layered hair, also was a picture of my parents at my mom’s high school prom. The last two wallets were pictures of my daughter when she was 2 months old and one of my son when he was 4 years old.
Another item inside the box were 8 one dollar bills. These were the dollars that I mailed my grandma for her birthday in the birthday cards I sent her. She always sent me money in my birthday cards, so I just assumed she wanted the same thing. I can’t believe she kept all of them.
There are a pair of reading glasses covered in dust, two sticks of Wrigley’s spearmint gum. I use to want to have to wear glasses because my grandma did. She always had these fancy pretty frames. There are two scents that remind me of my grandma, one is of Jergens cherry almond hand lotion and Wrigley’s spearmint gum. My grandma would drive to the bank every Friday to cash my grandpa’s pay check. We’d wait in the long drive-thru line and to help pass the time, she’d always give me a piece of gum. She’s the only person I knew, that chewed that gum.
There is a fake $10,000 dollar bill. My grandma use to buy lottery tickets from the Asian store on the corner in her neighborhood, then she religiously watch the lottery numbers on TV. She’d complain that it was rigged, but she’d continue to buy those tickets. She’d even let me and my cousin scratch them and we got to keep the winning’s if we won anything. She promised us that she’d win the lottery one day. This is about as close to winning the lottery as she ever got.
The next item in the memory box is a scratch paper from Allstate insurance that has my grandmothers hand written words of, “You are my sunshine” over and over until she ran out of scratch paper. I often times call up the family members close to my heart and leave voicemails of me or my children singing, “You are my sunshine,” in the hopes of making their day a little brighter. This paper has the most meaning to me. She physically wrote each word, re-tracing over the words engraving them into the white paper. She wrote this for some reason and I like to think she wrote it after listening one of my voice mails.
Last but not least, is a Western Union receipt from her to me on the date of 6/13/05 @ 14:12:49 Destination: Tupelo Mississippi for the amount of $500. If it wasn’t for this $500 I wouldn’t be where I am today. That $500 dollars was spent on gas, a couple motel rooms and the trip of my lifetime. I was escaping a failed marriage that had turned violent. I was driving from Mississippi across country in a 1997 grey Saturn strapped down with everything I could fit, including my 17 month old daughter and 5-year-old son heading back home to Anderson California for the last time. I wasn’t going to fail this time. I was going to make a better life for my kids and for myself. I pushed and pushed and made it.
I may never win the lottery, I might never be a published author , and I may never travel the world but I lived enough life in my 31-1/2 years that I was able to have memories cherished in a box worth a life time of stories.