Thursday, December 27, 2012

Sentimental Journey

I don't know if you guys remember me talking about getting a gumdrop tree like my grandma had when I was a kid.  I looked on several websites and they were either out of stock or people were price gouging.  I thought about checking with my grandma at some point to see if she still used hers or not but I decided against it.

After watching my family open presents on Christmas Day from the 2nd level so my foot wouldn't get knocked around by toy crazed children high on adrenaline, I realized the few pics I took were focused on grandma.  They were from behind but I didn't care.  I love just seeing the back of her frosty hair perfectly coiffed from the hairdresser a few days before and her red sweater she'd chosen for the holiday.  It was an okay day for her and we learn to cherish the calm to good days.  There are times I wanted to run downstairs, scoop her up while inhaling her scent of perfume and take away this horrible condition.  I would do it if I could.  I found thoughts of wondering what next Christmas would be like creeping in just like they had the year before.  I had to stop myself before I started tearing up.

My grandma, the woman who babysat me while my parents finished out their senior year to graduate, who supported me in any endeavor I took on and made many childhood memories with special touches she never realized...is battling dementia.  She has her good days and her bad days but the disease is progressing much faster than we thought it would.  We're having scares with her and it's horrible to watch this woman you love so much struggle so much with daily things.  Every moment with her is precious especially when glimpses of her true personality shine through.  You learn to soak it all in in ways that go well beyond the concept of "oh, they're getting older."  You never know the day she may look at you and not be able to remember who you are...and you're scared.  I have always been very sentimental, it's well known in my family but with this, you get even more so.  My mom and cousin came upstairs to where the Mr and I were sitting and we were just talking.  My aunt and other cousin sat down and we were enjoying our time together while Grandma and Grandpa were watching the kids bliss out with their new toys.  I apparently missed some kind of signal because the next thing I know there are 2 bags in front of me and an envelope with instructions from my mom to open the envelope first.  Inside is a note that says "I'm passing the gumdrop tree down to you now.  Enjoy the memories.  Love Grandma."  I bust into full blown ugly cry complete with vein poppage.  In the one bag is gumdrops and decorative rocks and in the other is this...


The bottom is missing for now so it's jerry-rigged but I guess my mom was thinking of sentimental things that people might like to have in the future and she knew grandma no longer used the gumdrop tree so she asked her what she thought about passing it down to me one day.  Even when it was explained to her, she didn't seem to remember the concept so it wouldn't be missed.  She said I could have it now.  So my whole family looked for it one day and they found it, wrapped it up and gave it to me Christmas Day.  It brought back all of the memories of seeing it on the table at Christmases from my childhood.  My mom and aunts reminisced about it always being on the table when they were kids too and that it was 42 years old.  Grandma came up and I thanked her for giving it to me and she smiled and said 'you're welcome!'  I don't know if she knew what I was referring to or not and I wasn't going to make a big deal over it in front of her but the rest of my family knows what it means to me.  I asked if they were sure one of them didn't want it and they all agreed it would mean more to me.  It does...especially now.  It will have a good home for as long as I have it and I will cherish all of the memories I have of Christmases past.

Have you had something passed down to you that means the world to you?

====================
Like this post? Don't miss another one...subscribe via email or RSS feed. (Or you can follow me on Facebook and Twitter )

35 comments:

  1. Thank you for sharing such a lovely story. My grandmother battled dementia for many years. I visited her everyday, even if only for 10 minutes from the time I was 10, through my adulthood. The one and only day I missed, was my wedding day in october - and only because her caretakers at the time advised me it would be too confusing and upsetting to her given her mental state at the time. She passed away 2 months later.

    When my grandfather had finally made it in his career, he bought her a set of silverware. A real, genuine, fancy, silverware set in a wooden box, with all the accessories. Years went by and she continued to add in pieces to complete what she thought was every piece she needed for a big family dinner, and I remember as a child helping her set the table for thanksgiving, easter, christmas, and st patricks day (we are irish!) for the long narrow dining room in their home.

    I did end up with a few of her things, and while I dont have the fancy home with the exclusive dining room like she did, nor do I ever have the bells and whistles of a full blown formal family holiday dinner, every ever of those four holidays, I take out enough silverware for me and my husband to have a small meal together, and the time I got to spend with her.

    I wont get into details to creep people out, but I honestly believe she stays with me, especially during these times. I'll smell the strong scent of her lavendar soap she used to use, find a small stack simple folded paper napkins in my kitchen (she always used to leave these next to the sink, never on the roll), or cut the TV on and find one of her favorite movies already playing while I'm making the holiday pies.

    Treasure the times you have, I'm not very religious, and not much for God or anything. But I do think that while she may not have physically understood your attachment to the gumdrop tree, there was an angel of her memories in the room, looking down and sharing that moment with you.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm so sorry for your loss. That is lovely that you still use the silverware. There's no creep factor...I get signs from people that have left my life too soon as well. ;)

      Delete
  2. Holy cow, this made me cry... Mine is a green ceramic tree with those tiny little light bulbs in it. It was my grammies, and it represents every Christmas I ever had with her.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I wish we still had our ceramic tree. The Mr and I both want one because we both remember having one as a kid but we lost mine in a flood when I was a kid and his mom doesn't have theirs. You're a lucky girl!

      Delete
  3. Lovely post Anele. I too am way too emotional, I get weepy at the drop of a hat and I hate that about myself. I guess it just proves how deeply we FEEL, though, and there's nothing we can do about caring so much, and really wouldn't want to do anything about it even if we could.

    Since my parents are both gone, I have lots of things that are precious to me and at Christmas-time some of those items make a re-appearance. I have so many handmade decorations and ornaments that Mom fashioned and I love them all. (I know I got my love for Christmas from my Mom!) It's funny, we went to my brother's house for a pre-Christmas dinner with him and his family last Saturday, and I noticed two of my most treasured hanging decorations were hanging in his house as well. Mom made them for both of us and it made me feel so good that they still display them as well, because my brother and dad had a horrible falling-out not long after Mom died in 1990, and never made up before Dad passed away in 2007. Very sad. And I wasn't sure how he feels about my parents, I don't talk about them much when I am around him. I know he has a great deal of guilt about my dad, but hopefully his memories of my mom are better, since they had no problems. I used to think of that quote from Prince of Tides (one of my favorite movies) "In Family....Nothing is beyond forgiveness." In our family the things that were said in that last fight between my brother and my dad were evidently "beyond forgiveness," and that is so very sad. I do anything possible to make sure NO rifts like that ever happen between my three sons and their wives, to tear my family apart.

    I love your gum-drop tree. It is so festive and I know you will treasure it all the days of your life. Sorry for your Gram, but so very jealous that you still have people from the older generation in your life. Cherish them!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That's so nice that your brother put those up. It would be nice if all things were forgivable but families are complex and hopefully your brother has made his peace even if he wasn't able to do it while your dad was alive. The good thing about my parents starting their family early was I was blessed to know most of not just my grandparents but great grandparents as well.

      Delete
  4. Oh please take the time to enjoy every moment you can with your grandma. My mother suffered with Altimzer for several years before her death, much to young at 69. So if you need a sholder to scream at and comiserate with I so totaly understand where you are.

    Hope you have a wonderful New Year.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks so much and I'm so sorry for your loss. Alzheimer's just plain SUCKS.

      Delete
  5. What a beautiful Christmas story! How precious is that? Especially to get a handwritten note.

    My Grandma passed away a few summers ago. She was battling throat cancer, and it ended up moving into her entire body. We thought she had time left, at least months to live. Well we all got together for our bi-annual family reunion, and on the first day she passed away at the hospital very suddenly. It was so quick that nobody had time to ask her what she wanted passed down, only a few of the important items where decided.

    I found out later that my Grandma INSISTED that my husband and I take her apartment sized freezer. I was one of the oldest Grandchildren and the only one married, it was very important to her that I get the freezer. I live a province over, and many hours away, so it was over a year before I got the freezer, but my aunts and uncles moved mountains in order for me to get it in one piece. I don't have a lot of sentimental value placed on the freezer, but the fact that everyone tried so hard to fulfill her wish makes me so happy. Other than that, I got back the wedding photo I mailed to her. I keep it hidden in my bedroom closet because it makes me cry every time I look at that photo in her frame.

    Anyways, thank you for the awesome story. It reminded me of my Grandma, thank you.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Aww, I'm so glad you got that freezer and that your family did everything they could to get it to you. She probably felt it would help take care of you and your hubby the way it did her family.

      Delete
  6. What a wonderful story and a great moment you'll always have of this Christmas. I have a stocking my grandma crocheted for me when I was younger. It was always so special to me because I loved her so much. Years later my sweet mother learned to make them just so my husband and boys could have one similar to it, and this Christmas she made one for my sons fiance. I hope she will appreciate the memories as much as we all do- I'm super sentimental, too.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm sure you will always treasure that stocking and that's really nice that your mom did that for your family! A treasure from the heart all the way around!

      Delete
  7. Two years ago, after all of the hustle and bustle of the gift exchange, complete with the wild children (my own...heehee), my mom quietly handed my sister and me and package and told us to open it when we were by ourselves, at home. I could never have imagined what was in that box. When I got home that night, I went to my room and opened the package. There was a letter stating how proud she was of me and how she wanted us each to have this. I opened the tiny box to find my mom's engagement ring. And my sister was now the owner of the matching wedding band. The sobbing you described.....I get that. I thought that ring was GONE. My mom had pawned it off so many years before. And with my dad gone 18 years, I just knew it was gone forever. Somehow, she managed to get it back, seperate the bands and give me the best Christmas present I could have ever asked for. I now have a part of my dad with me always. Well, I already did, but this was just icing on the cake.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. What an absolutely wonderful gift she gave you two! I would've been ugly crying too! LOL

      Delete
  8. beautiful, just like you!

    When my mom passed (the day before my bday in April) my family gave me my mom's car. I love it. It is a great car with low mileage, the proverbial little old woman who drove her car just to church every day. There is a Jesus sticker on the back which I have to remember is there to tame down my Jersey girl road rage habits! No one wants to see JEsus flipping anyone off!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Aww, thanks Mary. So sorry for your loss and the timing. What a nice remembrance of her and a way to help keep your road rage in check! ;) She's still looking out for you!

      Delete
  9. I'm so glad you ended up with the tree. I know you will cherish it for many years, and having this one will be so much more special than if you'd bought a new one for yourself.

    I'm also glad you had a good day with your grandma. I know those are rare and precious.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks! It's definitely much better than anything I could've bought for sure.

      Delete
  10. I hate gumdrops, but I love that tree!! SO cool that your family did that for you! You will cherish it always! I have some handmade Christmas stuff from my grandma--table cloth, napkin rings, etc. They are all terribly impractical as they have sequins sewn all over them but I get them out anyway because I watched her sew those sequins on painstakingly one at a time when I was a kid. I also have a piece of jewelry from each of my grandmas and some things from my dad that remind me so much of him. Good memories for sure. Sounds like you had a good Christmas!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes I will! Impractical or not you have those great memories of her working so hard on it so it makes it that much more special!

      Delete
  11. What a beautiful story! Thank you for sharing it, Anele, even though you made me do the ugly cry while reading it! I :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You're very welcome! Why should I be the only one to ugly cry? ;)

      Delete
  12. I have a recipe handwritten by my grandma that my Aunt gave to me for my wedding. Oh yes, there were tears. It was so personal and to have a piece of my grandma there was...no words.

    I also have a crocheted stocking, sequined ornaments, jewelry, oh and a cookie jar that I remember being the first thing I saw whenever I walked in their door. One of the pieces of jewelry is a charm bracelet that everyone bought together for grandma. I was very little at the time, but I remember helping my mom pick out the charms. And each one moves including a man in the dog house.

    Merry Christmas Anele, God is so good to let us know that He hears our every thought. What a blessing!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That is so sweet...all of it! So glad you have all of those wonderful things to remind you of her!

      Delete
  13. I'm so happy you got the gumdrop tree. Reading this made me tear up--a few years ago, my grandpa divvied up his coin collection among all the grandchildren and gave them to us for Christmas, wrapped in saran wrap and tied up with a little Christmas ribbon. I haven't even been able to open them up; I just keep them wrapped like that in my jewelry box. It is so difficult to see someone you grew up with fading away like that. I hope the tree brings back good memories every time you see it--and I hope you had a Merry Christmas too!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Aww, I don't know that I could've unwrapped it either. Something you'll always treasure!

      Delete
  14. Awww Honey, what a special, special gift. As you know, my mother-in-law is suffering with Alzheimer's and now my brother, in his mid 60s, is suffering from Pick's Dementia. It is a vicious disease that swallows up not only its victim but all who love the one who is suffering, as well. It's hurtful in so many ways. *hugs* I am thankful that you are still having good days with her and I know you well enough to KNOW that you are storing up each moment with her as treasure. Your value of family and tradition continually fills my heart to overflowing. You are such a special lady. *more hugs*

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm so sorry, I know you know what I'm going through. It breaks my heart and there are times I can see her slipping away. It's like hanging on to someone dangling over a cliff praying you can hold onto them long enough. I know in today's world, my value of family and tradition might be looked at as somewhat fuddy duddy but I don't care. I'm about as traditional as they come anymore! LOL

      Delete
  15. What a wonderful memory you will always have. As the years go by this Christmas will just get better as you remember this special day.

    I'm so sorry about your Grandma's condition. My father in law had Alzhimers and passed away last Dec. 28th. He had an unexpected medical issue which was ultimately a blessing since he was almost to the point of not remembering his son (he was in a nursing home at this point). Four months later I lost my dad to prostate cancer. I don't know which is worse - losing the mind or the body. Actually, both suck!

    Sorry for the downer, but I do cherish all my memories of my amazing dad and have many wonderful stories of my FIL. These wonderful men left such an impression on my husband and me that I'm hoping we are passing on to our children. We are blessed to have had them in our lives.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. So sorry for the loss of your FIL and dad. We've discussed the same having lost my FIL 8 years ago which is worse and it's all unfair when it comes down to it. All we can do is keep them alive by sharing their stories.

      Delete
  16. I'm so sorry that your grandma is battling dementia. My grandma had Alzheimer's, and it was so heartbreaking to watch her get worse over time. She didn't remember who I was, and was always calling me "Sue" (my mom's name). She was always asking when her husband was going to be home (he'd died decades before); eventually, we just went along with whatever she was believing at the time, telling her he'd be home soon. It was too hard to tell her that he had died, because she reacted the same as if it had just happened moments before.
    Anyway, I'm not saying this to be a downer! I think it's great you have such good memories of your grandma from her good days, and the gumdrop tree story is awesome!

    ReplyDelete
  17. That is the best Christmas story I have heard! I am so happy that you got to have this now and for it to have happened the way it did...with you not having a hint that it was coming!! This is another precious memory you can add to the gumdrop tree...coming full circle into your home now. xoxo

    ReplyDelete
  18. That's so sweet! My grandmother is now battling dementia as well and it is a very, very sad process to watch. She, too, had a ceramic Christmas tree that reminds me of her so much, and I asked my parents if I could have it one day. I love sentimental gifts so much more than store bought ones, and I'm sure I would've busted out the ugly cry face too!

    ReplyDelete

Thanks for taking the time to comment! I appreciate thoughtful readers like you! If your comment doesn't show up right away, check back in a few minutes. I promise it'll get posted. The system can get a little glitchy. (Rude or spammy comments will be deleted. Fair warning.)

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...