Wednesday, April 23, 2008
They're just some old plastic cups...
but they hold some very strong, and happy memories. The first night, well actually the second-he screamed for two solid hours when we arrived at 12:30 AM (so much for sneaking in unnoticed), we were in Cleveland I was giving Jonathan a bath. I was digging in the closet for the baby toys. I noticed a set of square cups, and my heart did one of those happy, sad flip-flops. Those cups were from my grandma's house. My mom's mom died when I was only 12, and she had a severe stroke when I was six or seven. I don't remember her much before the stroke. I usually think of my grandma in two ways. Sadly, in my pre-teen years, she was the grandma that couldn't walk very well, couldn't use her right hand, and couldn't hear at all! Seriously, a large part my my memories were the fact that she could never hear us when we were talking, and she was always griping at us to stop fighting (hmm.. I wonder why?). The other part of my memories was when we got to stay with her. She lived about 45 mins away on a farm, and even after she had her stroke, we could still go and stay with her. The farm definately required a LOT of imagination. There was no cable, no playset, no swings. But there were tons of spooky things around to explore: old farm equipment, good climbing trees, scary pole barns, freaky dear heads mounted on the garage wall, vintage barbies, and other cool stuff. I got pretty awesome at Old Maid. However, I digress. It was almost like a step back in time. Not as rustic as Little House on the Prairie, but the same idea. Lots of space outdoors and no one for miles. Very Cool. The water was from a well and tasted like rusty nails. And from every place that water flowed there were rust stains. Especially the bath tub. I don't even know if it had a shower, because we never used it. We ALWAYS took a bath, and we always had those square plastic cups. I remember them because I always thought they were strange. They all had teeny tiny holes in the bottom, which made it difficult to hold water. And the had numbers and the alphabet on them-but they were printed upside down. At least in my opinion. I remember staring at them as I sat in the tub trying to figure out why the printing was the way it was. I never figured it out.
And now, more than a decade later, those long forgotten cups with their upside down pictures were in front of me again, and I was hit with a strange sensation as I poured water from them onto my seven-month-old son. It made me sad in a happy way. If that makes sense. I always felt gypped having only one grandparent growing up. Don't get me wrong, my grandma is FABULOUS! But I never knew my grandfathers, either.
And there is something about your mother's mother. Maybe she is a window to understanding your own mother and ultimately yourself. Knowing that my grandma never saw me get married, or my first born leaves me with a small ache. This added with the idea that only in recent years, I have begun to realize that the grandmother I remember is not the grandmother I think she was. Seeing my son with these small plastic cups lessens that ache and makes it more intense at the same time, a paradox of sorts.
I think in fact my grandmother was an incredible woman, with a story full of tremendous tragedy and incredible hope. And I think if I ever write a book I will write it about her.