Aug 11, 2013

The treasure hunt

-       I want that one!
-       Me too!

It is eight years now since my sister and I cleaned out the house where we grew up and put it up for sale. Our parents had both passed away that winter, dad right before Christmas, mom when the birches turned green in May.

Our father was a strong tall life-affirming man who suddenly was diagnosed with lung cancer and was gone within six months. Our mother had hurried through life sad and in anxiousness, at the end crippled by several physical diagnoses. It wasn’t in our fantasy that we would loose our dad before mom, but we did. And five months later she gave up her life.

My sister and I are mothers of altogether five sons. They were all teenagers when their grandparents died. Going through their things they kept some treasures, little things that were grandpa and grandma to them, boy’s memories that fitted into a teenage room.

Me and my sister had a feeling though that they might appreciate different things when they grew older. And so we boxed up dinnerware and kitchen utensils, the Christmas crib and the church playing Silent Night, and of course the crystal chandelier that neither of us desired. The boxes have been sitting at the attic of my baker’s cottage all these years, waiting for the right time to come. And the right time was now.

More exactly this week. Trouble 2 back from Paris. Cousin 1 back from Canada. But Trouble 1 leaving for US on Monday. And Cousin 3 for Barcelona in a couple of weeks. So, on to it!

-       That used to be my favorite!
-       It was mine too!

We all gathered Wednesday afternoon starting out with take out pizza under my apple tree. I don’t think there have ever been pizza under that tree, but there is a first time for everything. And we sure needed a great deal of energy before opening up those dust covered boxes.

Cousin 1 married a year ago and has a new home. Trouble 2 and Audrey did just move into their first apartment, and Trouble 1 and Fay are planning for a future together. Cousin 2 and 3 have brutally been kicked out of their home since my sister and husband recently scaled down. So the timing for all five sons to dig in to those boxes was perfect!

It was a beautiful evening so the event happened outside in my front yard. My sister and I comfortable in chairs while our sons and girlfriends spread cutlery, tablecloths and teacups on the grass, hunting for treasures.

It was fun. It was emotional. It was overwhelming. And it was a bit magic.

I am often thinking how my parents would have loved their grandsons’s choice of girlfriends. And how sad it is that they didn’t get to meet. But that evening, watching Audrey and Fay’s happiness over the crystal chandelier and the Christmas crib, I felt like they met. Like they really did. Dinnerware and cutlery that used to pass Grandpa and Grandma’s hands every day, now tenderly received by the hands of two young women who love their grandsons and want to share their lives.

-       Oh, I had forgot about that one!
-       How could you, it’s unforgettable!

The evening was turning chilly as the boxes and treasures found their new owners. But the most spectacular sky kept us outside yet a while. None of us had ever seen anything like it: blue, violet, turquoise, purple, red, orange, yellow, pearl, a rainbow of colors playing above us as the sun was setting. Playing above the roof of the baker’s cottage where Grandpa and Grandma spent so many summers. Above the fields which Grandma’s father once farmed.

At my kitchen table later, warm, their daughters and families having tea together. Passing around Grandpa’s golden watch and Grandma’s golden bracelet. Their wedding rings. What to do with those? We agreed on not making any decisions there and then. It had been a long evening.

I had a hard time sleeping that night. That’s okay, I know the routine: a tossing and turning night, empty of rest, follow a day packed with impressions and emotions. It’s been eight years since I boxed up my mom and dad. Years packed with challenges and life turning changes.  The sight now of my mom’s omelet pan makes me take a deep breath. My dad’s blue apron designed as a dressed up west makes me smile and miss him like crazy. Looking at their everyday things from my childhood home is looking at myself.

The day after I was exhausted. Body and soul. Happy though. Happy because we were all there meeting Grandpa and Grandma once again, together. And because the two of them will live on in the homes of Trouble & Trouble and Cousin 1,2 and 3. What used to be everyday things to them, my sister and me, are treasures to the next generation. Happily received and cherished. A Grandpa and Grandma forever remembered.

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