Last night I was washed out, fatigued, drained. I think I looked a bit like an old wet wash rag, crumpled up in the bottom of the sink. That's what it felt like.
This last trip to the home of my extended family took it all out of me! I am not an overtly social person at the best of times, though I am trying to come out of my shell a bit. I made the realization over the summer, that I was secluding myself up here on the hill, so I started forcing myself to make a few phone calls to my friends. I always enjoyed the talks, once I took that step...it was just a matter of getting my nerve up to place the call.
Sunday afternoon I found myself, once again, in the midst of 18 cousins, probably half that many spouses of cousins and twice that many children of cousins, not to mention my 12 Aunts and Uncles, my brothers, sister-in-law, nephews and parents. It was enough "social" to be completely overwhelming. I managed to pull out of myself enough pleasant banter to seem part of the family, I think.
Now add to this mix the tables and tables laden with my Grandparents things: towels, kitchen utensils, books, clothes, photos, pictures from the walls, nick-knacks. You name it, it was probably there. I found that in itself almost overwhelming, and incredibly sad. These things that were part of their life were nothing special, just a container of coffee filters that weren't needed any more. Yet here they were, like a child telling the most intimate of family secrets.
All these things brought back so many memories, from the rose lamp that was in my Grandparents' living room for as long as I can remember, and the concrete alligator that was in their flower bed, to the apron that my Grandpa wore to carve. We family brought these things into our own homes to mix them into our own lives.
I brought home the rose lamp, and also a small pitcher and basin with blue chickens on it which reminds me of my Grandma's recitation about "The Blue Hen Chicken", that always left her laughing so hard that she had tears in her eyes. I brought home a painting of my Grandpa's airplane, and memories of visiting him in Florida with several of my college friends during Spring Break, when he took us all for a flight in his Cessna, and let me man "the stick" for a bit. The girls found a doll with an enormous crocheted dress, which is now covering an extra roll of toilet paper in their bathroom. JP brought some books, and my Grandma's wheelchair...just in case.
I have all these things of theirs, which is incredibly special. Most of all, deep inside, I feel the magnitude of my Grandpa's legacy to our family, to me, to my girls. It weighs me down, not knowing if I am strong enough to pass it on. For now, I just carry it, wrap up in it, praying to have a similar legacy of life well lived to pass on to my own grandchildren one day.
9 months ago