Went to Grandma's yesterday with Mom and helped go through her dresser. I think Mom and Aunt Lea wanted to be sure to remove anything valuable quickly because Grandpa's son LeRoy is there with his girlfriend Jan, and Jan is friendly and all but seems a bit eager to see what kind of hidden treasures might be around the house... She had a copy of some kind of antiques & collectibles catalogue, like a pricing guide, which made me super uncomfortable. Some of the things Grandma had were family things, came from Nana (her mother) and beyond. Carnival glass, a kewpie doll, etc. That sort of thing should stay with the family and not be auctioned off on e-Bay...
Grandma had a lot of little odds and ends in her dresser. I ended up with some costume jewelry -- big brooches encrusted with rhinestones and the like -- which I seized upon like the magpie I am. I so do not wear brooches. But they were so shiny. And reminded me of Grandma, and Nana, and a whole era that is lost now, when women wore white gloves and hats and costume jewelry to church etc. Lea got all the gloves. Mom ended up with some jewelry of various types.
Grandma had already distributed most of her more valuable treasures a few years ago when she started having strokes. She gave Mom two diamond rings which had been Nana's -- Nana who was widowed in her later thirties or around 40 maybe, and never remarried, not for want of suitors but because she was just pretty obstinate I think. The diamonds turned out to be of very high quality, and cut in a fashion that was popular in the early part of the 1900's, like after the 20's nobody used this cut any longer. Mom had them remounted to make herself a wedding ring (she got married last year).
Grandma handed me a ring right off her finger one day in 2001, when Mom and her future husband went on a trip to Turkey. I dropped them off at the airport and then went over and took Grandma and Grandpa out for lunch, and after lunch as I was leaving Grandma just slipped her ring off and handed it to me and told me to give it to my mother when she got back from her trip. When I told her about it, Mom told me to keep it if I wanted to. It is a gold "mother's ring" with five birthstones on it for all of us -- her kids and grandkids, all of us that existed at that time (four more grandkids came along later). I remember when they gave it to her, when I was pretty young, like six or seven years old, and I remember that she always wore it. So she had worn it more or less continuously for thirty years. And now I am wearing it, and it makes me feel close to her.
It was strange to see Lea again, after all these years. She is more or less the same, i.e. looked about like I thought she would, and hadn't changed in personality or mannerism. She was very nice to me and asked about our house, and Julianna, and admired the baby, and although I know she can be the very devil when she is angry, I really want to have contact with her again. Family, I am discovering, is really all that matters. Possessions come and go, but you can't replace your family and I don't want to have regrets about family members that I haven't spoken to in years for no good reason (or even for good reason). Not that I intend to start hunting down distant family members and forcing my company upon them -- but this is a good start.
They did reach Uncle Marty though I didn't hear whether he will be attending the funeral. Boy, he'd better. I hear his daughter, who I have never met, is in her last year of college -- here in the city where I live -- at the same University I attended. I had no idea. We sort of stopped having contact with them when I was in junior high or so -- they live way up by the Canadian border so we didn't see them all that often to begin with -- and I believe it was because he drank a lot. He and his wife (who is still in the picture) used to come and stay with us over Thanksgiving and drink the house dry, until one year my stepfather locked up the booze. We never saw them again... I can't believe it has been so long. More than twenty years.
Off to Mom's this afternoon. She's having dinner at her house, early enough so we can get the young one into her bed more or less on time. We made a pie to take along. I think she still just really wants everybody around her right now. She just lost her mother...