When both of my grandmothers died, nearly twenty years apart, the importance of moments and not mementos was never more profound. Especially with the people I feel connected to in life.
Although, I admit my desire to occasionally visit each woman's last apartment as it was when they died. Furniture they'd each had for years, arranged just so; clothes pressed and hanging in closets; and kitchens organized similarly -- one grandmother preferred vodka in her liquor cabinet, the other bourbon.
A Graceland-like shrine in memory of Georgie and Jane would be nice some days.
But it's just stuff. The older my grandmothers became, the more they shrugged their shoulders at their own belongings and boxes of sentiment.
When Georgie died, my mother's mother, all Mom wanted was one of her rose bushes. Mom dug up a pink rose bush, placed it in a plastic bag, sat with it on the flight home after my grandmother's service, and planted it in her yard.
I have a few things from each of my grandmothers. There are no family heirlooms or valuable antiques, but some old books and a photograph or two bring me great comfort and joy.
And a desk. When Mamaw died last summer [Dad's mom, Jane], I had the space for a few pieces of her furniture. A dresser and two night stands have been sanded, painted and repurposed in our home. But it's the old, mahogany desk with drawers that stick and darkened brass hardware, that speaks to me every day. "Come over here and sit. You're not too busy. Talk to me. Think. Write."
After some refurbishing, we placed the desk in a small area in our bedroom that has become my writing space.
I don't always sit at the desk. Sometimes I sit on the small couch, or the rocking chair with the computer on my lap. But I feel supported, encouraged, and inspired. Not to mention reminded of the difficulties women endured in prior generations with fewer opportunities.
I don't have a piece of furniture from Grandmother Georgie, but the roses from my own garden are reminders of her fortitude and love.
The tequila bottle the flowers are displayed in? A gift from my mother, who is very much alive, and collects them. Mom does not drink the tequila [anymore], but asks bartenders at nice restaurants to save the expensive, unique looking bottles for her.
Mamaw would love the tequila bottle vase. Grandmother [Mom's mother] would say, "Oh, for god's sake, Kaye Anna. I think we can do a little better than that."
I love it all. The desk, the roses, the tequila bottle, but mostly I love the reminder of the interesting, smart, strong women that are mine.