Memories, Keepsakes and Cardboard Boxes

When my grandmother passed away it went the way this type of things go: bitter sweet. We know that it’s coming with our grandparents, and we can be prepared to a certain extent. Then, when it happens, it will still be surprising and heartbreaking but not the same as when it happens with someone that is young. My grandmother was my best friend, and I’m not saying that to be generous.

I hung out with her on the weekends and talked to her on the phone when I was driving. We sent each other silly cards in the mail. I asked for her advice and she told me stories about times that seemed impossible. She willed her house to me, and everything in it, and suddenly all of my life, the entire time I had known my grandmother, became a wall of cardboard boxes. The dishes that I had grown up using. The housecoats she wore over her dresses. The sewing materials. It was all packed into cardboard boxes.


I didn’t know what to do with it. I knew I couldn’t make a choice right then. At the time, I felt like I could never part from anything. I knew that I would have to wait until a season of my life where I had moved on from the pain and sense of loss. That season didn’t come when I got married, or when my husband and I bought our first home. To be sure it was all part of the process; it was all leading me along. My husband, bless his heart, was so patient with me, helping lug all of those cardboard boxes every time we moved.

He never once pressured me to open them. He never once scolded me for keeping them. Finally, the season came, and with it brought the arrival of our daughter. Throughout the pregnancy, I felt my grandmother’s presence as strongly as if she was with me again. Finally, I felt the compulsion to move on from being the granddaughter so that I could become a mother.

All of those cardboard boxes came opening wide, all of my childhood and my grandmother’s life came spilling out, and I found myself eating on those dishes again, and sewing those old housecoats into a quilt for my baby. Some of the items were donated to a good cause, and some of them entered seamlessly back into my world, as if they had been there all along.