Thursday, June 30, 2011

Ephemera with Meaning

Note from Mel:  I'm re-running this post today - I'll be attending my Grammie's memorial service.  I thought this was a most fitting tribute to her.  :D

Sorry I haven't written for four days - I was with my mom, visiting my Grammie at her assisted living home on Friday.  It was great to see her, as I hadn't seen her for about 5 weeks.

My Grammie is 86 years old.  She has been a constant presence in my life since birth.  She was even my grade school music teacher (although there, I called her Mrs. Seiler because the kids laughed at me when I called her "Gramma").  I saw her at least once a week as a kid since we'd car pool to church together.  She and I also sang in Collegiate Chorale together, a choir consisting of all types of people in the community.  I'm lucky that I'm 42 years old and I can still say I have a grandma - and she's the last one (I never knew my dad's parents - they died before I was born or shortly after).

Things are a little different now - inside, she's still the same person but she can't walk and suffers from dementia so a lot of times she thinks I'm my mom.  She gets confused often and doesn't converse much anymore (which is a MAJOR change - we're all big gabbers in my family!).

When we moved Grammie into her assisted living place and sold her house, we each got to go through and take what we wanted - some people did the typical thing and went for the "good stuff" - the expensive china, the silver set, the beautiful (and real) jewelry - but not me.

Aside from a door stop that I loved (that is only a painted rock but I treasure it nonetheless), I didn't really know what I wanted.  But then I saw a brightly colored bag and a big box and I knew immediately that I was going home with them.

I somehow instinctively knew that these were things that Grammie had saved from her first trips to Israel in 1979 and Europe in 1984.  I was shocked to find letters that my family and I had sent to her overseas!  I was only 15 1/2  when she went to Europe and I remember thinking this was the most glamourous thing anyone in my family had ever done  (imagine my excitement when I was able to take my own trip to Europe a mere 4 years later).

As you can see, she saved EVERYTHING. this where I get it from?  :D
Grammie's travel diary, stuffed to the gills with ephemera

 Some of you reading may be shocked to discover that yes, I have used some of her items in my work.  You may wonder how I could possibly part with these things, especially when our time together is drawing to a close.  Here's how I see it:  her truly personal effects will ALWAYS be preserved - her travel diary, her notes about different composers and history - that's stuff I'll never touch.  But I know that she'd want me to use the other stuff however I'd like and she'd think to herself, "Now WHY on earth did I keep this?" about most of it. 

I'd like to think that I'm elevating those tickets stubs to a higher purpose and preserving her memories in a different way, one of which (I hope!) she'd be proud.

ATC made with some of the (MANY) ticket stubs Grammie kept from her travels


  1. You're so lucky to have that relationship. My dad's parents died before I was born and while my mom's parents lived to a very ripe old age, they lived so far away that we only saw them every few years and so I never had that close bond with them that you were able to have living in the same town. It's great that you can celebrate her life & adventures in your art!

  2. Thanks Carolyn. I am very lucky to have my Grammie! She was only 21 when my mom was born and my mom was only 22 when I was born, so I'm almost the same age as my Grammie was when I was born (scary!)! I feel so fortunate to still have her around - she's not quite how she used to be but it's still so great to see her. :D