Thursday, July 12, 2007

You can't take it with you

Just over a year ago, my grandfather died.  Two years prior to that, my grandmother passed away.  This left their 9 children with a house full of, well, everything.  Over the past year, the executors of the estate have been busy cataloging the items and having them appraised.  Children had first pick of what items they wanted, having it come out of their share of whatever the remainder of the estate will be.  I got an email from the executors today asking grandchildren to pick an item they would like to have as a remembrance of their grandparents, up to an appraised value of $20.
Looking over this list makes me incredibly sad.  I don't want stuff, I want my grandparents back... but I know that's not possible.  How exactly do you pick one item that would encompass a remembrance of two people who were part of my life for all but the last couple of years?  I'm finding the task daunting.  Do I pick an item that is just a remembrance item?  Do I pick something I need for my home but don't already own?  It's been over a year since I was even inside the house, and my memory is fading as to a lot of the items on the list.
Grammy & Grampy were my mother's parents.  I have many fond memories of going to their house with my mother on any given, ordinary day.  I remember the day I lost a tooth in a Wagon Wheel I was eating.  I remember countless times of walking in the back door and seeing Grammy ironing (one of her favorite activities).  They were also the original energy savers.  Grammy used to hang laundry out on the line even in the dead of winter, a habit left over from times when they didn't have as much money and before clothes dryers were around.  I remember many, many family events where their house was the gathering place for all of us.  I've had a lot of sadness lately about how our family doesn't seem to gather as much as we used to, a lot in part I believe to the fact that my grandparents are gone.  Soon their house will also be gone because it is up for sale.
One item I have wanted since Grammy passed away was a cookbook, which is identical to one that my mother has, and contains some family classics.  That is something about which I passed word along through my mother after Grammy died and they started going through her things.  I didn't get the cookbook then, and it is included in a lot of items that currently has one of my aunt's names on it.  I'm hoping they will let me have that one specific book, as I will indeed put it to use.
In the end I decided to ask for things that would be useful to me and that I have some kind of memory of.  I asked for the cookbook as well as a wall barometer that was always in the basement.  I thought that would be nice since I like weather so much.  It's something I can use and think of it as having belonged in their basement in the past.  I also asked if I could purchase a picture from the estate after the picking was done (it was over my allotted dollar amount).  The picture is a photo of the gazebo in King Square in winter.  Grammy loved that particular shot that was included in, I think, a 1982 calendar, and had the picture remain on the wall after the year was over.  Later on someone gave her a framed photo of the same shot.  That photo always hung in the back stairwell, and I have always liked it.  I hope I get the chance to have that as well, if it doesn't get picked by someone else.
There is no "right" or "wrong" choice I am making in picking from this list, but I still question myself on whether or not I missed something.  What would Grammy have wanted me to have?  Is there something I am forgetting that I would like to have?

1 comment:

Lisa said...

How strange that they said it had to be under an apraised value...

It's a tough decision to make, and I don't envy you.

When my great grandmother passed away, I had asked to have her sketch book. She was a moderately well known artist and she and I had a lot in common. I was told that it was going to be cateloged with her art. I found out later that it was thrown out. I hope the you get the things that mean something to you so that they don't end up in the trash.