At my age, I feel as though I probably should have been through this before. It’s honestly a blessing that I have just now had to deal with cleaning out a grandparent’s place and preparing it for sale. And well, it isn’t really me who is having to do the cleaning and organizing. As a grandchild, I’m sort of removed.
But still, I know it means a lot to my dad for us to have nice things and remind us of our grandparents. So when my dad asked me to come pick out things I’d like to have, I knew it was something I need to make time to do.
It seems like such a greedy idea – going in and “claiming” things we want. But for me, I knew it was more than that. It would be last time that I could photograph the house my dad grew up in and the place where both my grandparents died.
It’s strange to walk through a basically abandoned house where at one point – even if it’s been years – you thought of it as sort of a home.
Perhaps the idea of photographing helped separate me from the whole reality of it. Or maybe, in my mind, it’s really the best way to say goodbye and preserve … something.
Either way, it’s sort of hard (or maybe even crass) to say that it wasn’t a bad day.
Instead, I enjoyed uncovering all of the things my grandparents cherished enough to save.
Which included the expected like photos, greeting cards, letters, change, business cards, pins, awards, etc.
But there were many unexpected items like an airline safety card from their first trip to Hawaii, a guest services menu from a random hotel, and many, many name tags from various organizations.
I don’t pretend to understand why those things were important to them. But it was nice to see a glimpse into a life they had before me.
And perhaps that’s exactly what I needed to see. That there was so much more to them than what I remember.
And it’s nice to know that I will remember my grandparents in a way that I didn’t even know them. I feel like I now know them as the couple who enjoyed visits to tropical places. I know them as the couple who were separated by many wars due to the Navy, but he always wrote to her, beginning each letter with “to my dearest loving wife”. I know them as happy, together and proud.