After my Aunt's passing in October, my Grandmother's estate is being sold. My Uncles phoned me this week and invited me to pick out anything I liked, from my Grandmother's home. I am so grateful to them for their offer, and blessed that in the future, I will be gardening with her tools, lighting a room with her lamps, hanging my clothes with her clothespins, and serving meals from her bowls.
I love that most of my choices will be incorporated into our everyday life here, and that I will be reminded of them, and also my Great-Grandmother, as I continue to use their material belongings.
When I left the house today, after visiting for the second time this week, I stopped at this diner in Kankakee that we often carried out from, in Grandma's final years. She always asked for a hoagie.
I, however, always order their chef salad. If you need good, old-timey, real, live chef salad from a diner established in 1955, go to Carlo's. I'd also advise you to cough up the extra 30-cents for the homemade garlic bleu cheese dressing.
After lunch, I stopped at this Country Fruit Market. It's a wonderful, unique little greenhouse place that sells fresh produce and a lot of fine gifts, but the highlight is the deli, offering a number of black forest hams, salamis, Wisconsin cheeses, and their specialty, smoked trout and salmon.
My mother, sister, and I, stopped here religiously on the way out of Kankakee every time we visited Grandma. I didn't really need anything today, but found I simply couldn't drive by.
The owner, who was talking to the only other person in the shop, stepped out to ask me if I need anything, and when I didn't, he just let me browse. He approached me a few minutes later, with another friend in tow, and I told him I'd been stopping by for years, and was just checking the place out for old-time sake.
I hesitated just long enough, I am sure, for them to read on my face what I was thinking, but didn't say: "Because my sister is gone and my mother is gone, and my Grandmother is gone." In the few seconds it took me to regain my composure, the owner sweetly, and gallantly, stepped forward and said "can I fix you some lunch, Lori?"
At this I laughed, both appreciating the save, and explaining that I'd just been to Carlo's and should probably be hitting the road. He grabbed a deli price list, explained they'd be closed Sundays through April, but if I needed anything to call ahead, and they'd let me in to shop, any time I wanted.
I then came home to finish this weekend's project: Emptying out my Mom's photo albums. Peeling 50 years of memories up, and filing them in a box, under their perspective patriarch or matriarch: Descendants of Clarence Stewart, Descendants of Ida Bennett, etc. Long term plan is to scan them, offer the prints and scans back to their rightful heirs. Many unlabeled were tossed, and many more, I just had to choose and purge. I condensed 10 full albums into one shoe-box sized box.
I've flipped through these books for most of my life, but I was amazed at how many seemed entirely new, when I was forced to analyze each of them so closely. I even dragged out a magnifying glass to scrutinize some of them: I like the details. I like the mess in the background, and the bobby socks falling down. What book was that? Which robe was that? I remember that clock.
Wonderously, upon turning the last page of the last album I had to strip tonight, I found this 8 x 10 of my Mom's father. When I peeled it up, I was surprised to see this note stuck underneath, an L.M. Montgomery poem he'd modified for her, 46 years ago:
When evening drops its curtain downLord, a girl can only take so much, and this was the straw that broke the camel's back. A good old soul-cleansing ugly-cry ensued. I miss them, I miss 'em all!
And pins it with a star
Remember I will always love you
Tho I may wander far
Sunday night, all is sorted and put away, and I feel blessed for the people and the families I was born into. I feel the spirit of those who are gone, and I love more deeply, every day, those that remain on this earth with me. We carry one another, no matter the time or distance, and my Grandfathers' note to my mother reminds me of this.