Monday, August 10, 2009

Grandma's Mug

I grew up in Florida. You all know that. What you may not know is where all my other family was. My dad was from Pittsburg, Kansas and my mom was from Arkansas- all over Arkansas. My mom's dad was in the civil service although I have no idea what that is and he was also a Pentecostal preacher. Assemblies of God to be exact. We visited them every summer in Louisiana when I was a kid. And then in Arkansas when they moved back. My grandparents lived in an old house that probably used to be considered one of the well-to-do homes. It was on Main Street and it was big. At least I thought so. It had ceilings that were at least 12 feet high, maybe 15. And all of the doors had glass door knobs. The kitchen had cabinets built all the way to the top of the incredibly high ceiling and there was an ironing board built into the wall, hidden in a cabinet. In the back of the house there was a room, maybe it was a solarium, I'm not sure. The only time I saw it was when I was about 10. I just remember thinking that it was the most romantic, beautiful room in the whole world- completely surrounded by windows. My grandma used it as her sewing room so there were piles and piles of fabric everywhere. My grandma tended to be a bit of a pack rat. The next time we visited, that beautiful room had been torn down and two bedrooms and a bathroom were in it's place. It's understandable considering they had five kids and four of them were married with kids and well, there just wasn't enough room. So the beautiful room had to go. But I was so very disappointed.

It was in this house that my grandma's health began to deteriorate. She had a stroke and then another one that left her completely paralyzed on one side. And she had heart trouble. She took nitroglycerin tablets often. I didn't really understand what they were for. I was about 14 one summer when we were visiting and grandma had an episode with her heart. She was visibly in a great amount of pain and my grandpa was kneeling next to her praying. My mom and dad looked very concerned and my cousins were playing in the back. They had come into the room with me but I don't think they knew what to do. I couldn't leave. It's like I was paralyzed there and my heart felt like it was going to break. We lived so far away that we didn't have a relationship but she was my grandma. She was a person that was suffering and I couldn't do anything so I stood there and cried. And she saw me. I'm not sure if she appreciated the gesture or if she felt bad for me or what but after the episode was over she started gesturing to my grandpa. It was nearly impossible to understand her at this point. And I'm not sure what the reasoning was behind it but she wanted to give me a mug. And it said "I Love Mom". I thought it was strange then and, well, I still do. Maybe she was trying to tell me that she loved me. And so I kept it. All these years.

As a teenager, I kept it on my makeup table and it held brushes and pencils and such. And it's moved with me to every single place we've lived in. Fast forward to yesterday. It was one of the only clean cups in the kid cupboard. We have a kid cupboard for kids cups. I'm not sure why it was there but I decided to let Chloe use it and told her the story. A shortened version for Chloe's short attention span. I told her to be very careful but I just had a feeling that it was going to get broken. But it didn't. Not yesterday anyway. It got broken today. Amanda was doing the dishes and I think she dropped it. She called me to let me know that "you know that I Love Mom mug? Well, it broke and sliced my wrist". Sigh*. Thankfully it was just the handle. I don't know if all the pieces are there or if I can fix it. I will keep it in the cupboard though. It's the one thing that my grandma personally gave to me. I have an unfinished quilt and an old doll but those were given to me by my mom. I think if I learned anything from all of it, it's that sometimes you make a difference in someones life simply because of your position. I wish I'd known her better. I wish I'd been closer. But I know I'll see her again someday.

Edited to add that I was much more concerned about Amanda's wrist than I was with the mug at that moment. Her wrist is fine.


Mary said...

Aw. That really is a touching story.

I know how little objects like that can be so important and though you know the difference between the mug and your grandma, it still represents something intimate that you experienced. I hope it can be fixed.

Mom said...

Thank you Amy, I have wished that you truly knew her before she got so sick. She and your dad would stay up and talk about the bible for hours and hours. He still misses her too. The doll was given to you when they still lived in Louisiana but I didn't take it home then. I know she loved you very much. I think about her all the time. She was a remarkable women of God, and you have so many of her traits.

Christy said...

I really love your memories of that beautiful house. It's no wonder you have a love for old houses and old things!
I think it's so interesting how objects take on deep meaning for us. I'm as baffled as you are by the decision to give you a coffee mug...but I love that it has helped you to feel connected to your grandma for so long. Even if it is never quite the same after you repair it, I think this just adds a new chapter to The Story Of The Mug. It can still hold makeup brushes or paint brushes just as well without its handle!