I just got off the phone with my mom, who told me I have a new cousin. He’s not really my “cousin”, I don’t think. He’s one of those relations involving second or third and three times removed and a voodoo curse involving a chicken’s foot or some such. There’s a weird dynamic with the cousins on that side due the ages of the generations, so we don’t call anyone by what their actual relation is, maybe I’ll go into it sometime. (okay, you tell me what he is. His father is my mother’s first cousin.) His name is Christopher, he was born yesterday, and that’s all I know. I’ll probably go up to see the family in a few weeks when things settle down. My mom and her aunt (Christopher’s grandmother) are going to the hospital this evening but I’m still fighting this head cold so I turned down the invitation to join them.
Then she asked me about some things she’s come across in the house that once belonged to me. Now, I’m a bit of an insane sentimentalist. Some call it being a pack-rat, and I guess that fits too, but whatever. I’ve gotten loads better in recent years at getting rid of stuff I really just don’t need, and saying no to my mom when she tries to give me stuff that I’m sure I once saved for whatever sentimental reason or just because it was cool. Today the old sentimental side clashed with the newer more practical “you don’t need it” side, and it’s an odd feeling.
Mom: Do you remember that sleigh you brought home from shop class?
Me: Uh. No?
Mom: Well, do you want it?
Me: Is it nice? (I don’t think I made it, I think it was in the room of abandoned projects and I thought it was cool- see above)
Mom: It’s just plywood, but it’s nice. It has a broken runner, but I have the piece and can fix it.
Me: Oh. Um, no thanks.
Mom: What about your German tapes? Do you want those?
Me: Yes, I do want those. I actually know where my German book is (Deutsch, Na Klar!).
Mom: You can give yourself a refresher.
Me: That’s the plan. (I took German in college, and at the moment all I can remember is counting, the alphabet and how to conjugate the phrase “I am”)
Mom: Do you remember that scotty dog candle that came from Grandma’s?
Me: Gertrude?
Mom: It has a name?
Me: Well, Dad would never let us call it Gertrude, but yeah, it has a name (give me a break, I was 7).
Mom: Do you want it?
Me: Yes. No. Yes. Wait, which Grandma? (I was pretty sure I knew but wanted to make sure)
Mom: Grandma D.
Me: Yeah, I want it.
I don’t need this candle. I don’t know what I’d do with this candle other than put it on a shelf and let it gather dust like it has at my parents’ house for the last 23 years, yet I still want it. It’s the thing that my seven year old self chose from the house when she died, and I’m not sure how to let go of that. I was so young when she died that I only have flickers of memories of her. I already know that that candle is just going to be one of those things that down the line my kids (should I have any) will roll their eyes at me wanting to keep- I know because I’ve done it to my own mother enough times. But that candle is my tangible memory of my grandmother, just like the box of owl stationery is my tangible memory of my grandfather (even though it is currently lost in a box and has been since I was 11, but my dad swears he brought it home for me). Is it crazy to keep items you’ll never use because they’re tied to memories that grew dusty a long time ago? Do you have anything like that?

4 thoughts on “Family

  1. Brad

    Yeah, but very little. I suppose I’ll have more as it is handed down. I’m more likely to keep something of value and throw away the cards.

  2. Caryn

    A whiskey flask. Still has whiskey in it (probably the same whiskey from when I was a kid). It’s actually a pretty big, ugly flask. But it was my Dad’s. And he is where I got my love of whiskey. All the flask does is sit on a shelf and remind me of the vices we shared. heh. But I love that flask. I will never, ever get rid of it.

  3. Clare

    He’s your second cousin, I think. That’s what my mother’s cousins children are referred to in our family.
    My brother has a large orange leather revolving chair (our grandmother’s) and a glass penholder with a crab inside (no pen) which belonged to a great aunt. I have a print of a girl in pink. The frame is broken and the picture is faded until it looks like a ghost with enormous dark eyes. It came from my (other) great aunt’s house, and as it is one of my earliest memories.

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