Precious Treasures Come Home

Twenty years ago I had to say “good-bye” to special things dear to my heart – precious treasures that had been handed down to my grandmother from her grandmothers. These items disappeared after her death, and it was somewhat of a heart-wrenching experience to have to accept I would never see or hold these beautiful heirlooms again. It’s certainly not because I wanted more stuff, and I would have been completely content had another family member acquired them. But because no one in the family knew where they had gone, I was sad for my grandmother who had taken care of these things with diligent tender-loving-care, just so to leave them to her family to enjoy, as her mother and grandmother had done.

I had been told all of the stories. I knew the value of each piece (more sentimental than monetary) and after years of trying to find them, I had finally conceded they’d never be found again. Instead, I turned my attention to compiling her stories, keeping the promise I had made to her before she died, as I reported in my post, “Mission Accomplished ….”  Little did I know then the mission wasn’t over yet.

The evening I had completed the stories and gathered photos and information to include on CDs to send cousins, I took a break by doing a little Ebay gazing. I was in search of “spaghetti poodle” figurines to add to another that had once belonged to my aunt (daughter of said grandmother). Before my aunt passed, she had broken one of the pair and she mentioned sadly that she would have liked to acquire a few more and pass them down to any granddaughter who might appreciate their value. I recently became aware of two darling little girls who are her great-grandchildren and felt that’s where I would eventually send my aunt’s lone survivor at the right time, along with others I might collect – but first I had to find a few.

I typed “spaghetti poodle figurines” into the Ebay search box and started to sift through the list when I was surprised to see two cat figurines – very familiar cuddling cats that made my heart leap. I had purchased a pair exactly like them when I was 8-years-old for a Christmas gift to my grandmother. It actually was my first work experience. After seeing them for sale at the corner drug store, I begged my father to buy them so I could give them to her, and he in turn gave me the option to work for them at $.10 a chore. When I reached the $3.00 mark he then advanced the remaining $4.00 to be sure that they weren’t sold before I could earn enough (and yes, I indeed worked it off.)

My grandmother proudly displayed them on a shelf in every home she lived in, and though she moved around quite a bit, the only damage I saw on them the last year she was alive, was a little chip on one paw and the tip of the tail of one figurine and they both had lost a few of their plastic whiskers. During that last visit I also noticed a little dirt on the chest of the other figurine, and when I began to reach up for it with the intention of washing it for Grandma, she called from the other room, requesting a glass of water. They were then forgotten until after she died, and I began inquiring with family members of their whereabouts. Eventually, I realized all of her cherished heirlooms had mysteriously vanished from  family possession.

I wouldn’t allow myself to fancy the idea that these cats were one and the same, but I bought them at $24.95, believing they would bring some solace for the loss of all else, and mostly because no matter their origin, they reminded me of Grandma. When they arrived a week before Christmas, I carefully unwrapped each one and then became giddy as I saw the chips on the tail and paw on one and the dirt spots on the chest of the other. At that moment, I believed it was truly a God-send for having kept my promise of writing her stories, and all I could think of saying with tremendous glee was “Merry Christmas to me! Thank you, Grandma!”

I set them in a place where I can see them as I write and then turned my focus back to finish making and sending the CDs of her stories to my cousins. After the last CD was mailed, I again returned to Ebay on a search for those poodles. But first, there was “feedback” to do for the seller of the cat figurines, and curiosity led me to peak at the seller’s store.  A familiar cup was first on the list – one just like the cup Grandma served me coffee in while she told me one of her most important stories.  And then the matching saucer.  And the dinner plates.  And my grandfather’s wedding cufflinks and tie clip set, the coin bank he had as a child, the gifts sons brought home from WWII and on and on and … oh my, it was all there – everything I had given up hope of ever seeing again in this world!

I contacted a cousin who agreed we had to get these treasures back into the family. I started hitting the buy button and bidding on most important items and those I suspected might be wanted by various cousins. The hardest part was waiting for the items on auction to end at 1 a.m.  While trying to win the apothecary bowl that Grandma used for crushing herbs and nuts, I became a determined, crazed mad-woman – a side of me I’d never met before. I snarled threatening expletives at every counter bid (followed by “sorry, Gram”) until it became mine after nine bids. The last minute of the listing became the longest 60 seconds of my life until I read “Congratulations! You have won this item!”  I screamed.  Then, I cried.  Then, I laughed.  Then, I screamed, cried and laughed until my hubby woke up and asked if I’d lost my mind. “Go back to bed honey, it’s only a dream,” I told him quietly, not wanting to shock him with the approximate $2200 total of the scored treasures. Fortunately, he shuffled back to bed and wasn’t aware of the cost until after the sweet seller dropped about $600 worth of shipping from the invoice.

Am I crazy?   Perhaps.  But my heart is full.  And I know my grandmother is dancing in the clouds right now.  I owe that lovely lady very much.  Had it not been for her, I would have never learned as much of what I know about surviving the struggles in life or the significance of family values, which I gained by listening to her insightful stories. As well, she taught me how to bake an apple pie, sew an apron, crochet a doily and hand embroider my first stitch.  Grandma encouraged me to keep drawing and writing, both of which I make a living at today, and she looked at my first digitized embroidery sample and proclaimed, “God has found a place for you in this world.”  Even now, Grandma has taught me to never give up hope.  As she used to say, “Whatever will be will be, and nothing can stop it if it’s meant to be.”  Once again, Gram, you were right!

I may not be done shopping or I’d mention the terrific Ebay seller who deserves a zillion-star rating for handling this overwhelming order with an understanding heart. But it’s best to remain quiet awhile – I’m just trying to bring these precious treasures home and I don’t want to bid against friends or family.  (Cousins may contact me about any item they’ve been looking for.)

Thanks for waiting on this post, folks.  Blog time had to be sacrificed for Ebay time.  Also, I am adjusting the blog schedule for the next post to be made in about two weeks when I hope to have even more smiles to share and possibly a couple of stitches!  🙂

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Pardon me while I pause …

I’m posting late and unfortunately have to ask for an extension of your patience, folks! Life is not allowing time for a blog moment. Due to a fantastic family emergency (which I’ll reveal in the next post) I will not be able to post again for a week or so. Be assured I’ll be back as soon as I can! Till then, allow me to say, don’t ever give up on finding what you thought you lost. If you have enough patience, and it was meant to be, those lost things will find their way home! 🙂

Mission Accomplished – Hello 2012!

This week I should be winding myself back up, putting myself in gear, and looking 2012 in the eye with a here-I-come attitude. I should be. And I would be if in recent weeks I had wound myself down, put myself in park, and chilled long enough to say “good-bye” to 2011. But though I managed a few wonderful holiday moments with family, I couldn’t stop to take a real break, because I was making a deadline on a personal quest – a resolution made last year to complete a project of compiling my grandmother’s stories on CDs and sent to cousins by December 31.

When I began the project, I sat down and decided, “This should only take a few days.” My grandmother had passed years before and it was difficult to trigger recollections, so I delved into history books and watched history TV. A few weeks later, I said, “just one more day” and each following day I repeated the proclamation until it reached completion six years later.  One cousin called it, “tenacity”.  I’m leaning towards “obsession”.  And now I’m basking in satisfaction for not breaking last year’s resolution – even if I did miss that goal the previous five years.

But now what? my writer-self asks. What will I do to lose the tension of the day? Where will I go to see things like I never saw before? What will keep me intrigued as does getting to know those ancestors whose lives have grabbed me with surprise, sorrow and delight? How will I experience that sweet ride of the words without having an impelling reason for the quiet tick-tick-tick of the keyboard guiding my creativity and imagination? This sucks.

Then again, perhaps not. I still have many blinking leaves on Ancestry.com and I’m sure I’ll find a new muse from a zillion different stories yet to be recalled and discovered. There’s a lot of darn good tales in that tree left to be written – both truth and fiction. Even seeking information about unrelated historical people can be easily found. I highly recommend Ancestry.com to any writer who needs facts or inspiration, but most of all, researching family history can be an enriching experience for everyone. Simply, it’s great for the soul.

The project even led to the discovery of things I might not have ever known. For example, I made good use of Google Maps when researching Google Earthcensus records to establish a location timeline. And don’t get me started on how fantastic I have found Google Earth to be! A homebody like myself can fly – yes, fly like a bird! – anywhere around the world, into the universe, under the sea, and during different eras! The engineers of this wonderful software app get a high twenty (all fingers and toes) for saving me a lot of leg work, not to mention traveling expenses! And it’s fun!

When it came time to create the CDs, I just couldn’t picture handing Grandma’s special stories to my cousins on a dull, naked disc with the title written in felt pen, and I wanted it to be easily found in a pile of CDs (more for my benefit than others – I lose a lot of discs). Then I recalled the LiteScribe label engraver that had come bundled with my laptop, which I’d never tried, though I had bought a stack of LiteScribe CD blanks, thinking one day I might use them for a Moonlight Design collection. It takes about 15 minutes for engraving each CD, but well worth the time, and I’m sure I’ll be using it more in the future.

I discovered the convenience of using my new Kindle Fire for sharing the CD with my sister who refuses to move into the high-tech world for any reason. She asked if I might print out the stories for her – all 37902 words, along with multiple folders of information and color images. She doesn’t understand the cost of ink. (Who does?) I have a special Kindle mail address where I can send documents that I want to read on the Fire, so now I can call up Grandma’s stories on it and hand it to her (but she will have to tap her own pages. I have to draw the line somewhere!)

And on the “life” side of things … I learned that our history books need more than an update; they require a total upgrade. Better said, let’s revamp – toss them out and start all over! What I was taught in school certainly isn’t what I know now as truth!  Oh sure, the skeleton of facts are there, though inaccuracies are many as stated in “Lies My Teacher Told Me”, but when you start filling in the lives, emotions, beliefs and cultures, a completely different view emerges. After the last six years of merging my grandmother’s stories with American history that covered the last few centuries, seems to me we’ve created a big ol’ tale that has been washed over, manipulated by pride and prejudice and has survived via naivety and ignorance.

Well, that’s just my two stitches.  Now, on with 2012!  🙂