When Things Are Not Just Things

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I’d just like to know — who has my granny’s cookbook?

Are there things in your family from a grandparent or parent that just seem to be priceless? Oh, I’m not talking about money or some “valuable” piece of jewelry. I’m talking about everyday items that just seem to be better than gold. It’s funny what items in a family seem to be so utterly desirable. In truth it’s not the items that are treasured but the memories that go behind them.

Uncle Louis Holding me, momma and Granny Mann

Uncle Louis Holding me, Mama and Granny Mann

Button Jars and Rolling Pins

In the summer time, a lot of us grandkids would be at my Granny Mann’s house. It was just a two bedroom, one bath cement house on the edge of a little town called Konawa. What adventures we had running through the garden and hiding among the bright orange tiger lilies! One thing we always loved to do was go through the button jar.

Granny bore and raised 12 children so she did a lot of sewing. That button jar probably had buttons that went in that jar around 1916 — the year she was married. By the way, she was born in 1900 so she was only 16 when she married my granddaddy who was 32! There were all kinds of buttons. Some had sparkly “diamonds” on them. Some were pearl and some were brass. Some were bright red while others were old plain ones off of somebody’s flannel shirt. All of them were interesting to us kids. I still wonder who the prize winner of that button jar was.

Granddaddy and Granny wedding day 1900

Granddaddy and Granny wedding day 1900

Now, a plain old rolling pin that has long ago lost its handles doesn’t seem like a prize possession, but you just might be wrong. Considering all the pies my mama has made, her rolling pin is truly fit for a museum! It’s got nicks and cuts in it from being used to crack walnuts. It once had red handles, I think. They’ve been gone so long I can hardly remember. What makes that rolling pin priceless is it went everywhere with us through 10 different moves. It could be a weapon or drive a nail to hang a picture frame. Now how many things do you know that can roll out a pie crust or stun an intruder?

Rocking Chairs and Treadle Machines

One item I especially treasure is my Granny Everett’s Singer sewing machine. She wasn’t as avid a seamstress as my mama’s mama, but for as long as I can remember I’d seen her stitch up a hem or mend a torn curtain with that old treadle sewing machine. One summer when my children were babies, I went for a visit and got bold enough to ask Granny about the machine.

“Granny, if no one else wants your machine, will you leave it to me?” I asked.

She laughed and said, “I suppose. You might have to do a little fighting over it!”

After she passed and her grown children went to her house to divide her humble possessions, they looked at the back of that sewing machine and granny had taped a note that said, “This goes to Karen.” That note made that old machine my most treasured possession because Granny wanted me to have it.

Then there are rocking chairs. Those iron chairs were the first thing I’d see when we pulled up to Granny Mann’s. After three days and two nights in a car, they were like water to the soul after crossing a huge desert. Many times she was sitting there waiting for us. She’d clap a hand over her mouth and start laughing and crying all at the same time. So sometimes rocking chairs are not just rocking chairs. Sometimes they’re the sweetest things and bring on the sweetest of memories.

What items have you and your siblings or cousins fought over after losing a parent or grandparent? Maybe their possession should be shared? Of course, there’s not a chance of that happening. Too bad things can’t be copied like photographs! Naw, it wouldn’t be the same.

Granddaughter Lilly Belle examining a calendula

Granddaughter Lilly Belle examining a calendula

(This article has been reviewed In June, 2024 since it originally published April, 2017.)

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