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.  Hmm...is 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


2 comments:

  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!

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  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

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