20 February 2013

Inheritance

As I have previously mentioned, my grandmother's house is a special place to me and to my family. It has been the place of gathering for three generations, and that time is quickly coming to an end as my grandmother does the unthinkable.

She is selling her house.

She has been using it as an opportunity to give away many things which are priceless to our collective memory and identity as a family. I won't mention everything she has placed into my possession, but I was the proud recipient of her bedroom furniture.

We drove down last Friday night to retrieve it all, and the house was oddly empty. The pictures were missing, much of the furniture was already packed or given away, and it wasn't the same place I remembered. I didn't dwell on that too much because I was  eager to get the truck packed before it got too much later/colder.

My fiance and I loaded the truck easily, and the last piece to go into the truck was the headboard. As my lovely handyman was detaching the headboard, I sat on the edge of the bed and reminisced about that old house. My grandmother and I spoke about the memories we had--the time my sister whacked her head on the bathroom sink and had to get stitches, the hideous yellow color my father painted her bedroom, and how I remember vividly that my great-grandmother snored loud enough to wake the dead. All the time, it didn't strike me at all what was about to happen. I was so happy to be in a place so familiar to me, and finally getting this item of business off the to-do list, that I missed what was really taking place.

It was only once we were on the road again that I realized that this visit was the last time I would be inside of that house. The last time I'd see that stained glass window with the purple crest in the middle. There would be no more Thanksgiving dinner at that dining room table with the broken chairs. No more creepy closet in the front bedroom that, to this day, I am too afraid to open. No more enormous black grate in the floor where the "heat" comes out at a temperature that never fully registered as warm.

I will miss everything about that old house, and because of what it meant to me I'm glad I managed to keep a few pieces of it for myself. My fiance and I don't have a place of our own yet, so he's keeping the furniture with him until we can put it into a house of our own.





It isn't easy for me to make peace with the changes--the reality that I won't ever go back to that house. But I understand now how important it is to pass on the best we have to our children and grandchildren, the same way my grandmother did with me. It's a lot like giving someone furniture. She took the best care of everything she owned, and now it's my turn. And I know that I will never look at that adorable yellow furniture without think of the woman who has given me so much more than that in every imaginable way.