Write what should not be forgotten - Isabel Allande

Month: April 2016

The Stuff…


The Things we’ve handed down or the crap other people have to deal with…

The days after my mother’s death are kind of hazy – even though we knew it was coming it didn’t make it any easier.  Plus we are Irish and as my cousin Meg once said “My family is GREAT at funerals”  It was a proper Irish wake for our sweet Mom. (I’m pretty sure it was required)

Anyway… during one of the days my siblings and I began the search for the “important paperwork”.  We knew that she kept a fire safe box under the bed so we started there.  What we didn’t expect was the second box we found.  It was a battered locked metal box – we were hooked.  My brother Mike made it his personal mission to get inside the box. The rest of us (clearly more mature) started on the box with “important papers”.  Of course that was soon abandoned as we watched how hard Mike was working to get into the mystery box.  We all offered helpful suggestions and looked around for ways to help.  Someone found a bunch of old keys – she had a lot of them.  None of the keys worked.  Mike continued at it – it probably took the better part of an hour.  Screwdrivers, hammers, my father’s long unused ancient tools you name it we tried it.  We all ended up sitting on our mother’s bed like 8yr olds, caught up in the mystery.  Important papers completely forgotten and tossed to the side. Mike kept at it – we were too far into this – failure was not an option.  What could possibly be in the box… the good jewelry, the stock certificates, maybe the rare coins, the precious gemstones (we weren’t aware that any of these things actually existed, you understand). The moment finally came and Mike broke through and we could OPEN.THE.BOX!!  Like any good treasure hunters we took a  deep fortifying breath and slowly opened the lid. What we found inside was…. about a dozen golf pencils.  Yep that’s right we spent an hour opening an old broken box only to find tiny pencils.  We laughed until we cried.  Over the next few days all any of us had to do was bring up golf pencils and it would set us off again.

My niece reminded me of the story a few nights ago and ever since then I have been thinking about all of weird crap that all of us keep around without even realizing it.  My mom had probably long since forgotten about the box under her bed. Maybe she never even know what was in it. She was a bit of a collector of stuff though.  She had a ton of cookbooks but hardly ever cooked!  We found dozens of keys that went to nothing.  I remember once that she sheepishly admitted to me that she kept several old t-shirts in case she ever needed to paint. To my knowledge my mother never painted a single thing, oddly she also had a lot of napkin rings.  By far though what found over and over and over again in her house were scissors.   In every drawer, box and shelf it seemed we found scissors.  We just started putting them on the kitchen counter, dozens of them. Big, small, old, new you name it we found it.  I can not possibly imagine what one person would need with so many scissors. I think in the end we found over 30 pairs.  My cousin’s wife sometimes get messages from beyond and one night I asked her why there were so many scissors and she responded almost immediately that it was because they never stayed sharp enough – like it was so obvious.

My sister and I each took a couple of our favorite scissors home and I smile every time I see one.  I can’t imagine what it will be that my kids find and hopefully crack up over someday.  It just made me think – we can’t be the only ones.

What is the stuff that your relatives left for you to find???  I would love to hear the oddball things that everyone else has found…..

Ed & Ida Part II

So the second part of my grandparent’s story is not as happy as the first.  Ed and Ida were married for 48 years – what a testament and and beautiful legacy. 

On a regular Monday afternoon (August 23, 1965) Grandpa and Grandma were driving to the small village of LeRoy to have dinner at my Aunt Lil and Uncle Emil’s house. LeRoy is about 20 minutes from Batavia.  Grandpa tried to pass another car before he realized that he had crossed a double yellow line.  He tried to go back where he was behind the car but was unable to do so because of a third car.  He had to go ahead and pass the original car.  He was pulled over by a State Trooper.  In those days the Officer didn’t write a ticket and instead they had to go the home of the local Judge.  My grandfather had to pay a $5 fine for the violation.  He was extremely upset at what had happened.  It was the first traffic violation he had ever received.

As he left the Judge’s house, he was still upset about what had happened.  He drove for less than a half a mile before he slumped over the wheel and the car veered out of control.  It ended up in a farmer’s field after hitting a tree stump and finally coming to a stop.  My Grandfather was dead before the car stopped moving, he was 72 years old.  My Grandmother was injured in the accident, she had facial lacerations.  There was another policeman who happened to be driving by and along with a few others they helped my Grandma.

As per protocol, they called the coroner to the scene.  The coroner, Dr. Emil Kimaid arrived on scene…only find his in-laws.  Uncle Emil had to pronounce his father-in-law and collect his mother-in-law.  He took her home to his house and had to share the news to the family.  He treated Grandma for her injuries and for shock, and they started making phone calls.  My siblings and cousins all vividly remember the reactions of their parents to the shocking and awful news.

I can’t even imagine how my Grandmother must have felt.  She was sitting in my Aunt’s house – her expected destination but in no time everything had changed.  In the blink of an eye, really, life as she knew it was over.

My mom told me that Grandma had 2 black eyes for the funeral. She stayed with Aunt Lil and Uncle Emil for a time. She struggled after Grandpa’s death.  I think she suffered from depression for the rest of her life.  Grandma had spent her whole life following a plan and now here she was with no road map for this.  She grew up with a strict father and so many younger siblings to help take care of.  She went from her father’s house to my Grandfather.  He was also a strong man. She had 5 children of her own to take care of.  Now she was alone with no one to lead, and probably having to make many new decisions was overwhelming.

The children rallied around her and did their best to support and take care of her.  After Uncle Emil and Aunt Lil’s, she moved in with my Uncle Ed and his family in Connecticut for a while. Eventually she moved back to Batavia and lived in her own apartment.  The girls took care of her, while taking care of their own families.

Ida was stricken with stomach cancer.  My mom would talk about how she and her sisters would travel between Batavia and one of the Rochester hospitals to see her.  At the time they all had children and jobs to balance.  My mom had 3 teenagers and found out unexpectedly that she was pregnant with me.  I don’t think Grandma always made it easy for them, but they took good care of her.  Unfortunately when our mom was sick, my sister and I went through much of the same things.  It was one of the most difficult times I have been through – the worst part is that I couldn’t talk to my mom about it! Ida died in February of 1973 at the age of 78.  Her brother Fr. Adam came to Batavia and said her funeral mass as he had with several siblings.

Both of my Grandparents are buried in St. Joseph’s Cemetery in Batavia.  Even though I was never able to know them in life, I like to think I have a sense of them.  I think of them often and am so proud to be their granddaughter.  Telling their story is my way to honor them.

gpa marshall accident 1

gpa marshall accident 2

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