Monday, November 19, 2012

Remembering: When Ziploc Bags Fail

It's time to pull up your chair.  Do you know you have one here in this space we call Soli Deo Gloria?  You do.  It's reserved every week only for you.  This place would be different if you weren't here and we miss you when you are gone.  This is a place filled with women who seek to honor your words, you heart, your tears, and your laughter.  Scooch in close.  You won't want to miss a word.
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In preparation for the holidays, our family has an annual mission called Operation Clean-Out.  As I was cleaning out my own closet, I found a Ziploc bag which held two of my grandmother's t-shirts that I had taken with me after cleaning out her house after she died.  This is the unedited reflection I wrote after realizing that the scent that I tried so hard to preserve had leaked out anyway.  Thanksgiving is a time of great rejoicing, but for those who have lost, it sometimes takes some remembering to get to the gratitude.

When Ziploc Bags Fail

The marinade din't leak all over the shelf in the refrigerator and the bread didn't go stale, but somehow the aroma of my grandmother sneaked through the microscopic holes and so I cannot detect her scent any longer.

The two t-shirts I took from her dresser drawer as we packed up her house, I never dreamed I would actually wear them, only of capturing the days when I was young and I coudl smell her even before we loaded up the van, hitting the thousand miles between us.

Cleaning out my closet, I never had any intention of ridding myself of those two shirts.  They would live in their plastic homes for the rest of my life.  But upon deciding to relocate them to a different shelf, I closed my eyes.  I opened the bags, longing for the whiff that would transport me back into her presence.  But as I breathed deeply in with expectation, I was met only with the stale smell of the home of which they were residing...synthetic nothingness.

The tears brimmed in my eyes because I lost something I thought I had saved, but which had slipped through my fingers, just like she did two years ago.

I pulled the bag open wide and I pulled out these shirts and I held them close to my cheek, assured by the fact that her skin touched the cotton, and thus, here is her skin once again on me.

I hold up the first shirt, a black-ringed Mickey  Mouse shirt she bought sometime in the seventies when my parents were newly married.  Retro is in, so I hang it up amongst my t-shirts.  A new home that seems to suit it just fine, two generations later.

If I can't smell her, I'll just wear her, I think.

The second shirt I remember her wearing from pictures only, a homemade stenciling of the letters that spell out GRANDMA, her favorite title, I am sure.  It's the one she wore to celebrate my arrival, her very first grandchild.

And I slip this one back into the bag and I put it high upon the shelf.  But, one day, I'll wear this one, too.

Because I want my grandbabies to feel their great-great grandmother's skin on theirs, too.

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30 comments :

  1. Not so long ago I was doing teh same with my grandother's pearls. Hoping that somehow the smell of her talc and body splash still clung on to them 2 years later. Smells sure have a way of "transporting" us.

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    1. For sure. You know, I also have a ring of my grandmothers, too. Sometimes, I pretend that if I wear it, I can feel her hand on mine.

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  2. I can feel how much you miss her...

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  3. This is so sweet and beautiful. We lost our grandma a year ago in September. My mama has a sheet she sometimes wraps my sleeping toddler in. She came over 2 days ago to retrieve, and asked with urgency, "Did you wash it?" I told her I did not. She responded, "It was the last sheet she (her mama, my grandma) slept on. It still has her DNA."

    This reminds me of that. Thank you for sharing. I love your heart.

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    1. We want so badly to hang on. When I miss her so deeply, I have to continually remind myself that I will see her again completely whole and without diseases.

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  4. I cherish everything I have of my moms. Even the simplest things like one of her sewing rulers.

    I am so glad you have these t.shirts, Jen. Sweet to hear the stories of when she wore them.

    Fondly,
    Glenda

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  5. ps Jen, remind us of our uber, cool and hip new hashtag... #sdgsisters?

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    1. Thank you for the reminder! I just put it in the post.

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  6. I think it's wonderful you can wear her shirt. I don't have anything of my grandfather's, but every year around the time he passed away I remember him while eating salt and vinegar chips with dill pickle dip and Diet Coke. It sounds so weird, but it's what he and I used to eat while playing cards when I was a kid. I just can't separate those from him. And I am so glad I can share that with my kids.

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    1. I love those kinds of memories...the ones that are so unique and special.

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  7. I so love this! I so miss my grandmother - she was my rock, she taught me to stand up for what I believe, and she saw me beautiful inside. I have a soft black cashmere coat of hers that I wear in the winter. I see her in "the power of the look" in my 4th sons green eyes. I see her in our celebration dishes and in a tea-cup I gave her one Christmas. The good things that were hers are in me - just like the good things of your grandmother are in you, too! However, I so rejoice with you on the day you get to wear that t-shirt!!!

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    1. I love the collection of things that you have from your grandmother. There is something about having a coat or a blanket -- we can just wrap ourselves up in her!

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  8. You and I share this longing, this love of a grandmother now home. I can always relate to your feelings when you speak of your grandmother. I was sewing with my daughter tonight and had to suck in my breath at the memory of sitting in my grandmother's lap while she sewed a night gown for me and her. And tonight I told my granddaughter who is two when she is a big girl I will teach her to sew. She responded, "I a big girl now, Noey." I'll share with her soon.

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    1. So sweet. I think that passing down hobbies and traditions is such a way to honor those who have gone before us.

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  9. What a lovely post, Jen. Both of my grandmothers live in Ecuador and the one that raised me like a second mother I miss terribly every day.

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  10. I have a bag with my mom's sweaters that I haven't opened yet. She died right before our wedding when she was only 44. So I understand what you're saying. Beautiful story - I'm glad I found you.

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    1. What a hard time to lose your mom. I am so sorry for your loss. But when you open the bag, I pray that you would feel her wrap her arms around you.

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  11. Such a blessing to have had a wonderful grandmother who left you this legacy circle of love. Her being willing to be that kind of grandmother is one half, you accepting and loving her back is the other.

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  12. Jen, what a beautiful grandmother--what a legacy she left you and your girls. So grateful for your tender, loving words here. Thank you.

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  13. I can sense your love for your grandmother, and how she loved you through your memories of her...so beautiful, Jen...thank you.

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  14. Oh, Jen, your Grandma was SO SPECIAL- I've read enough about her to KNOW that for certain. And I wonder if when you hug her again in Heaven she will still have the same sweet scent. My Grandma's clothes- the ones I remember her in often- were sewn into teddy bears- one for each of my kids and one for me. Love the way you love so well, friend. Happy Thanksgiving.

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    1. I love that idea -- sewing her clothes into teddy bears. That is precious.

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  15. I did not really know my grandparents as they lived far away and died when I was still young. You are blessed cause you have such good memories of your grandma and even have shirts that she wore! :^) patsy

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  16. Your heart of love & admiration for your Grandmother pours out through this post. May the Lord provide you with His comfort, unfailing love, & tender memories of when she was close. ~ jen

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  17. What an amazing testimonial of refreshing love you pour over us today. Grandparents are such a vital part of a family, such an incredible gift to the younger generation. I imagine how you will glow one day when you don the "Grandma" t-shirt!

    Your lovely story brings to mind my grandmother, who passed away three years ago. As my mom & I went through her home, mom encouraged me to choose some things that were dear to me. I now have them on a shelf. They are mostly everyday items—her candy thermometer, tiny baskets she wove, old wooden and metal kitchen items she painted in her Early American style, a few petite starfish, her Bibles—that make me smile every time I look at them. Thanks for the beautiful trip down memory lane, Jen.

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  18. I know what you mean by scents bringing back sweet memories. May wearing her shirts give you sweet recollections of time with her. I've saved my own things to remind me of my grandmother. Memories are precious and meant to be treasured. Thanks for sharing this today! www.toshowthemjesus.com

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  19. Praise God that memories of our loved ones live in our hearts, and that we will see our family in Christ when He comes again. Thanks for the beautiful, honest post & for hosting, & God bless!

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  20. Beautiful, Jen. I have my own treasures from my grandmother and great grandmother. They transport me back to childhood. The clanging of the marbles in the tin Chinese checker game board, the bread shaped promises. I'd lean against my grandmother before I could read and she'd read the one I chose. Precious memories and spiritual guidance was a blessing. Thank you for bring the memories to the surface of my heart.

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  21. Oh, Jen. How many of us have done the same? May the memories of your grandmother bless you again when you take that second tee shirt out to wear.

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  22. I'm so grateful for your grandma this Thanksgiving. Because I think she must be a big part of the reason you are such a special lady, Jen. Love to you.

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