As we’ve been going through a lifetime of stuff, I have found it hard to part with things that have a lot of emotion attached to them.
It seems like everything has a memory to go with it.
Some of it are actually things I may want, but have absolutely no use or room for, like some of Granny’s furniture that may be antiques at this point; some of it may need to just be donated or go in the trash.
I knew the things I wanted to keep, as Granny made sure she talked about this event, usually at the oddest of occasions.
“What of mine do you want when I die,” she asked one Friday night.
I was sitting in my room reading when she knocked on the door as she barged in. I was maybe 14 years old and Granny didn’t respect anyone’s privacy. You lived in her house, she was coming in when she wanted to.
“Why are you asking me this now?” The question scared me. “Are you OK, Granny?”
She frowned and shrugged. “I’m fine. I’m gonna die one day though and I want to know what of mine you want. I want it to all be fair and don’t want no fighting.”
“Mama, we aren’t going to fight over anything you may leave us,” Bobby said.
“You don’t know that. People die and the divvying up of everything tears the family apart.”
She turned back to me. “So what do you want?”
I wasn’t sure what she had at this point that she was considering passing on to someone else. To be perfectly truthful, she probably didn’t know herself.
“I don’t like talking about this,” I replied.
She shrugged again. “Everybody dies. I want to know what of mine you want when I kick the bucket. Let me know.”
This was her attitude pretty much as long as I can recall.
She was very nonchalant about death, talking about it in a rather factual, almost detached way, rather than an emotional one.
And, knowing what of hers we wanted was something that seemed to give the old gal an odd, macabre joy.
“I want your cedar chest,” Mama told her one day.
“You can’t have it,” Granny told her. “I want Bobby to get that.”
Bobby didn’t want it.
Mama didn’t want it after Granny told her she couldn’t have it.
“I don’t know who’s gonna get my cedar chest now,” she commented later. “Have you decided what you want?”
I wanted her dishes. The dishes that stayed in her china cabinet and were only used on Thanksgiving, Christmas, and sometimes Easter.
I wanted the china cabinet too – that dark wood monstrosity that seemed to take up a whole wall.
Granny wasn’t sure she wanted to part with her dishes though, or her cabinet, even in the great hereafter.
“I thought you said you’d be gone though? What use would you have with them?” I asked.
She eyed me curiously. “I just don’t know if that’s what I wanted you to have.”
I sighed. She could be exhausting at times.
“Instead of wanting us to go around and tell you what we want, why don’t you just tell us or leave it to us in a will, like normal people do?”
But Granny wasn’t normal people. She wanted to know ahead of time.
I’m not sure that she ever agreed to the dishes or the cabinet.
The only thing she ever outright told me I could have was her dentures.
“I really ain’t gonna be needing them when I die,” she said.
“You won’t need your teeth, but you’ll need your dishes. That makes sense,” I snorted.
Knowing Granny, she didn’t want to leave things that had been gifted to her; but things she had paid for herself, she was fine with leaving to us. That’s the only reasoning I can make of her logic.
Mama’s trying to get me to take some of Granny’s other things as we work on cleaning out the house, telling me she’d want me to have them.
I’m not so sure about that. The Redhead Prime may haunt me if I was to take something she felt like I didn’t deserve.
“Do you want this?” Mama asked as she called to tell me about something else found. “I doubt it’s worth anything, but you may want it just for the memories of it.”
I told her I’d check it out on the next visit. Maybe I would.
The sentimental value far outweighs the monetary and perhaps that’s the most important currency to hold.
Sudie Crouch is an award-winning humor columnist residing in the North Georgia Mountains among the bears, deer, and possibly Sasquatch. You can connect with her on Facebook at Mama Said: A Collection of Wit, Humor, and Deep-Fried Wisdom. Her recently published book, ‘Mama Said: A Collection of Wit, Wisdom, and Deep-Fried Humor’ is available in paperback and Kindle download on Amazon.