This afternoon on my way to see our Granny, my husband’s 95-year-old mother, I pulled over to photograph the storm rolling in. It was hardly a storm in comparison to the “haboob” that blew through the valley on the evening of my 60th birthday, but it looked like it held potential for more dust and maybe even a little rain. It never materialized, but the dust presented itself in another way.
For years Granny has had a large cedar chest filled with her life’s treasures. In fact, it’s one of the few possessions she still has, now that she’s residing in an assisted living home. I try to visit her every Sunday and almost every time I go, she mentions some long ago item that she’s certain is in her trunk. She always adds, “Someday I’ll go through that trunk.” We’ve actually been through it several times since she moved out of her house seven years ago, but memory being what it is when you’re in your 90s, some things are forgotten. I decided today was the day for another excavation.
We unearthed several vases of fake flowers, a wooden pencil box from Texas, two copies of Ladies‘ Home Journal that were over 100 years old, photos of family members she no longer recognized, and a few ceramic figurines that brought big smiles to her face. She knew immediately who had given them to her, mostly her mama. What the trunk was primarily full of was crocheted items, some finished and others intended to eventually be a part of a bigger project. There were beautifully cross-stitched pillow cases and hand towels, and an unfinished stitched pillow top. “Someday I’ll finish that,” Granny said, and then added with a touch of sadness, “Probably not.” There was also a large quilt near the bottom of the trunk, which we decided to leave where it was. This decision was mutual, due to a common element of everything I removed from the trunk. Dust. We both started coughing after about the fourth or fifth crocheted doily, and by the time it was the quilt’s turn, it was starting to feel like a miniature haboob was on its way.
In the past, going through her trunk always seemed to liven Granny up and fill her head with stories she so eagerly wanted to share. Today was different, and not just because of the dust. This Sunday afternoon she had little to say and her treasures just seemed like anyone’s old stuff. I could feel her slipping away, one of our family treasures. It’s been a birthday week of celebrations, storms, dust, and reminders of the ephemeral nature of life.