Off The Beaten Path

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Georgia, United States
Some people come into our lives and quickly go. Some people move our souls to dance. They awaken us to new understanding with the passing whisper of their wisdom. Some people make the sky more beautiful to gaze upon. They stay in our lives for awhile, leave footprints on our hearts, and we are never ever the same.

Wednesday, February 20

Lost


When my Grandma passed away her daughters all gathered around and they went through her things and tossed everything away. Grandma in life was never rich, didn't have a lot, but what she did have she kept neatly folded and tucked away in a camel back chest. When I was a child I would sort through the old clothes, the old papers, letters, poems, bits and pieces of her life. I was devastated to find that my Mother and her sisters had disposed of most of those cherished possessions. For some reason "the daughters" all had like minds on the subject, and the consensus was to toss everything. I guess my Mother's childhood was not very much fun and she really didn't care to have reminders around of that painful life. But among the boxes of pictures and papers and cards that were destroyed was my family history. I wrote this from the pain and desolation that I was feeling at the moment I found all of that was gone forever. To this day Mom can not understand why I feel this way. But then she has never valued anything that she didn't purchase brand new. She considers family heirlooms to be just "old junk."


Lost in the folds
carefully smoothed,
hard to imagine them
bunched and bruised,
tucked away gently
meant to be kept
until years later
clutter is swept,
up and away
out the door,
so nothing remains
of what came before.

17 comments:

quilly said...

Nea -- Just moments ago I hung up the phone after talking with my sister, Caryl, about all the family history we do not have because our Aunt (our mother being dead) did much the same thing with our grandmother's possessions. Not only that, among Gram's possessions, were the few things my mother had left us. All of it gone.

Your poem tells our story, too.

Nea said...

Hi Quilly, so you understand how I feel then. I asked my Mother, "what would it have hurt to have kept her things?" And my Mom's answer was, "well you can't keep EVERYTHING." What did she mean, everything, Grandma had so little, really. But I think the crux of the situation was, both my Mom and her sisters used to write things that they didn't want other people to read. And they were afraid that among those papers might be some of those letters, or at least they were afraid there were things in there that might embarrass someone. Because I heard them talking one time, and that is what they were discussing. They didn't want to go through things item by item, so they just tossed it all. I can't imagine what they might have written, or someone else might have written, but I am sure I never knew any of the family "skeleton's" because Mom was always pretty tight lipped about her growing up. I have often wondered what "secrets" they were trying to hide. When I was a kid, I remember reading some great poetry. Wonder if Grandma had a "friend" who wrote her poetry at some time in her life. Well it does no good to speculate, it is all gone now. But I remember there were beaded purses in that trunk and a couple really pretty dresses.

Cindy said...

I used to love to look at the things in my Grandmother's desk- there were letters written in such fancy script from one ancestor to another, postcards from trips, all sorts of wonderful things. I don't know who has these things since Grandma has been gone but I do know that they did not get thrown out. That would upset me terribly- those things are treasures!

Avus said...

Nice poem! I am with you all the way in this. I have some of Grandma's jewelry, Grandad's pocket knife, watches of various uncles and my (carpenter) father's tool chest and all his tools (whenever I use them he is present with me).
Such trinkets are immeasurably valuable and bring into memory those who owned and touched them.

Queenie said...

Oh Nea, I can so relate to you on this, each little bit from the past that is discovered is treasure to me. I loved your poem, hope your saving all your bits and bobs?

Akelamalu said...

Such a poignant poem Nea and one I can so identify with. The past is so important in knowing who you are. This is one reason why I so wanted to get my Grandmother's biography published - thankfully I did.

ginco said...

I've always believed that my Mom was the only person who didn't give a hoot about family treasures simply because she never kept any "family souvenirs" I will give (almost) anything to possess a few photographs of my grandparents. I do believe I have about 2 pics of my Mom as a very young woman.
I have kept all the small souvenirs my 2 children made for me, even the little "I love you Mommy" notes 20 + odd years ago - even their school reports. For all the tea in China, will I part with any of it!! LOL! Perhaps I'm just a sentimental old shoe.
What a lovely post Nea, you really gave us food for thought here!

Dr.John said...

I guess it is true that one man's junk is another man's treasure. We were lucky because both our sets of parents treasured family and saved things.

Nea said...

Hi Cindy, I did the same thing, spent hours playing and going through my Grandmother's things. She had a whole box of old cards. The kind that they used to send around the turn of the century, and in there was also calling cards, and little memory books. There was also a piece of paper that had all of her kids births, and information that she had in her mind at the time they were born. Things that you could never replace in a million years.

Nea said...

Hi Avus, I think it is wonderful that you have the tools that were your father's. tools if taken care of will last such a long time. And everything that is made with them adds to their historical wealth. Often when I go to antique shops and looks at the old items, I will think of the life they spent with the people who owned them and wonder what stories they could tell. The one thing I do have is my Grandmother's rocking chair......it is the first thing I would grab if there was a fire.

Nea said...

HI Queenie, thank you......yes, I save things.....probably more than I should. don't know if anyone will want the things that I save, but they give me comfort. and when I pass away, well I hope there is someone in the family who wants some of them. But truthfully I don't think any of my kids are as nostalgic as I.

Nea said...

Hi Akela, I wish that I had enough knowledge about my Grandmother's life that I could do the same, but she was such a private person. Whenever I would ask her things, she would reply, "oh you don't want to know about those times," I guess they weren't much fun for her either.

Nea said...

HI Ginco, no you aren't the only one who had a parent like that. My Mom was the worst, she gave away everything that was remotely a family heirloom. and as she was doing it she would say, I am sure glad to be rid of that.......with each and every piece of my family history. She then would go out and buy brand new, cheaply made junk. And be so happy with it. She just wanted to get rid of everything that reminded her that they were so poor. She once told me that she and her brothers and sisters were referred to by the other kids as those "Grapes of Wrath" children. She hated her childhood. She seems to have no fond memories, and if I even refer to " the good old days" she will remind me there was nothing good about it. I guess life must have been beyond our comprehension. There were 15 of them living in a dirt floor house.

Nea said...

Hi Dr. John, you are lucky, if you grandparents and parents treasured family and saved things. I don't know why some people do and some don't. but I think it must have to do with how those possessions make a person feel. If they bring back nothing but hard times and bad memories, I guess to keep them would not be in a persons best interest. to me they just meant family and history, so of course they were something I would like to have. But it is all water over the damn now, I guess.

Elween said...

we have a saying: "the mouth is hard but the heart is soft". she might called it 'old junk' but she definitely didn't mean so.

hope you have the greatest memory of your grandma. :)

Libby said...

...i realize that some 'clutter' is meant to be done with, but some you should NEVER get rid of...and i'm sure i'll have that decision to make with my brothers in the next few days...

Nea said...

HI LIbby, some toss everything, othere keep everything, I am kind of in the middle, something should always be kept, others I suppose can be tossed, like my grandma's collection of tomatoe soup cans and labels. haha