It’s been seven years this month since Granny passed away and for better or worse, her things have remained pretty much the way they were when she died.
Partly out of not knowing what to do with them, not having the space to rehome them, and partly because we probably all fear the old gal will haunt us if we get rid of anything.
Granny didn’t have anything most people would consider fine or fancy.
She did have some nice dishes she only used on the holidays. Dishes I long coveted and plan on getting as soon as I make space for them in my cabinets.
She didn’t like antiques really — she said she had grown up with old stuff her whole life and didn’t know why people jacked the price up just because it had been used for decades.
“Maybe some of your stuff is worth something,” I’d suggest.
She snorted. “It’s old. Just like this stuff is. Something being old don’t mean it’s valuable; it means it’s ‘bout to fall apart and they want to get rid of it before they have to fix it. Antique my tater.”
Of course, she didn’t say tater; she said something else because that’s how Granny was.
Truth was, Granny thought all of her stuff was super-valuable. She couldn’t stand to part with any of it and her personal appraisal was far higher than it’s fair market value simply because she owned it.
As I priced stuff for a yard sale once I asked her if she had anything she wanted to sell.
“How much you think I could get for this?” she asked, pointing to a knick knack on a shelf gathering dust.
“Maybe two bucks,” I said.
“Two bucks!” she was outraged. “It was more than that when I bought it! It should be at least $20.”
“Is it worth that?”
“To me it is,” she said, sticking her chin out resolutely.
“Would it be worth that to someone else though?”
“Don’t matter,” she said. “It’s worth that to me. If someone won’t give me $20 for it, I can keep it.”
Keep it she did.
She kept lots of stuff.
Things she couldn’t bear to part with simply because they were hers and that fact alone made them valuable.
If Granny owned it, it was extra special. Sacred even.
Like her praying hands statue.
I can’t remember where she got this little statue but it was simple in its design.
Two hands together as if in prayer on a small flat base.
This little ceramic display was moved throughout the house, finding its way on top of the TV, maybe to pay penance for the debauchery of “Dallas” and “Dynasty” or to offset the words my grandfather uttered during ball games.
Other times, it sat on a side table in the living room atop the burgundy and gold brocade tablecloth that I found both gaudy and amazing at the same time. Positioned next to it was a little lamp that I also loved and coveted even though the whole corner gave me funeral home vibes.
Her sacred hands were often on the receiving end of violence for some reason too.
The table was situated just right for them to be knocked to the ground with the slightest bump.
When she kept them next to her phone — a possible reminder to pray for people after she talked about them —they’d tumble to the ground.
Her praying hands were also the subject of Bennie’s gentle wrath on more than one occasion.
Mama’s little white and black fluffy cat had somehow deemed the statue as an opponent and would discreetly push it to the floor, causing the hands to break open wide.
“See there, just see!” Granny would exclaim. “I can’t have nothing nice.”
“Mama, how much did those cost?” my mother would ask as we sat, holding the hands together while liberally applying some Super Glue to the wounds.
“That don’t matter, Jean,” Granny would reply. “They are sacred.”
Mama and I would exchange a glance but not say a word. We knew better.
Granny always thought if she had somehow managed to buy something and add it to her furnishings, it was a treasure. She didn’t make a lot of money, so anything that wasn’t practical had to hold a special significance. These praying hands were probably just a few dollars but in her mind, they held a reverence that was irrefutable.
Maybe they helped her hold on to faith when and where she needed it the most and that’s why she moved them throughout the house. Or maybe they represented how battered her faith could be at times but could be restored.
Whatever it was, to Granny, those ceramic hands uplifted together in prayer were more valuable than the ceiling in the Sistine Chapel.
“Mama, do you still have Granny’s praying hands?” I asked her the other day.
“Oh, yes,” Mama said. “They are still in there on her dresser in her bedroom. Why?”
Even though I had often found that little statue to be kind of trite when I was growing up, I suddenly had a newfound respect for all it had survived.
“I want them.”
“Yes, I do.”
After all, it is a family heirloom of sorts.
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.