Saturday, November 20, 2010

Three Tiers of Memories

Other than the kids toys, I don’t care for a lot of knick-knacks. I like to display pictures and a few things that have a deep meaning to me. Some of these things reside in my kitchen on a three-tiered shelf next to the sink.

On two of those shelves are mementos from my Grandparents houses; the third contains my very favorite picture of Reagan and Nolan when they were babies and a dish I painted on our honeymoon in Mexico.

On the second shelf are my Granny Pike’s measuring cups and spoons. They are metal and some parts of the spoons are so worn that they feel like they are about to snap. She was a good cook and I like to think she is standing beside me in my kitchen when I measure with her spoons. I secretly hope someday when I’m holding a measuring cup it is going to guide me through the kitchen allowing me to make her apricot rolls that I miss so much at the holidays. (Cut me some slack, I just saw Harry Potter. A girl can dream!)

Next to those cups are Pillsbury Dough Boy salt and pepper shakers. Those held a spot on my Grandma Neiman’s stove. They didn’t get used much because she didn’t like “spicy” things. I’m sure the salt got used for baking because she could make a mean torte cake and some tasty thumbprint cookies.

On the highest shelf are clear glass oil and vinegar bottles. The oil label has long since fallen off, but the vinegar one is there. It was made with one of those hand-held embossed label makers.

Dial, click, dial, click, dial, click.
My Pappy had one of those and would sit in his rocking chair and make labels for hours. Basically everything in their house had a label. Helpful things like the water valves on/off positions and then more basic things like “sewing machine.” I’m pretty sure his label fetish drove my Granny crazy, but that green label brings back mucho memories for me.

Nearby is the photo collage I made for Papa Neiman to give to him for Father’s Day this past June. We never got a chance to give it to him. He left us a few days before.

As I dusted off each one of these special pieces, I started thinking about what Thanksgiving would be like if they were all here with me. There would be tasty apricot rolls (probably with a label on it), but more importantly there would be laughter and probably a little yelling if Pappy drank too much Rolling Rock, which would have been highly likely. Granny Pike would have been yelling “whoopee” an awful lot as the kids put on a show for her and got all wound up. Papa Neiman would be sitting there eating and eating and eating. And asking for a goodie bag to take home. His shirt pocket would have cookies stuffed in them. Grandma Neiman would be yelling at him to stop eating as she sat at the table smacking her lips (habit) with her perfectly coiffed hair (set every Friday at Beth’s Beauty Shop in Slavic Village), but she’d not forget to bring out the trays of thumbprint cookies with her special cream cheese frosting. But only after everyone was around the table, lest someone eat them all up before the others got a chance.

I can’t have them here, no matter how hard I try. They no longer walk this earth in body form. Their circle of life is complete. I can close my eyes and imagine though.

The people that are still here and can be here may choose not to be this year and that hurts me. Grudges and stubbornness may prevent that. It makes me sad, but I’ve decided that life is too short for those things and I can’t make people change so I’ll just go with it. I’ll make it the best day I can for my kids, because that is what I have to do as an adult. We’ll watch the Thanksgiving Day Parade and cheer for the arrival of Santa. Then we’ll stuff our bellies with good food and wine and talk about the things in life we are grateful for and hope that next year there are more seats filled at our table with those we love; while we still have the chance to be together.


Nancy Heller said...

Your post brought tears to my eyes, thinking of my grandparents. Wishing you, Bill and those beautiful Twinadoes a happy and blessed Thanksgiving.

Shelley said...

Same to you, Nancy. I know you'll be eating well :)