Wednesday, August 25, 2004

Part 1: Silence

I walked into the old apartment that my grandmother had kept for most of her life. She had lived many years, and undoubtedly had many treasures hidden in her home. As I was the only remaining relative, she had left everything to me in her will. I was anxious to see the stories that her life had to tell; however, I also realized that she had collected a lot of things that didn’t tell a story; just junk. I knew that the task at hand would be a big one.

When I walked into the front room, I was overwhelmed with memories. The air still smelled of her cheap, imposter perfume. She’s always worn so much of it, perhaps because her senses were dull, and she didn’t realize how strong it really was. In any case, she always smelled as if she’d marinated in the stuff all night. Shelves of dusty books, which hadn’t been touched since before her eyes began to fail, lined the walls, floor to ceiling. They had all been dearly loved at one point, and the ones that were still close to her hear until the very end were all in one spot, not nearly so neglected looking as the others. I remembered how I used to come over every afternoon and read to her when I got out of class. She would always ask for one of the same five that she’d always asked for. She loved Shakespeare, and The Merchant of Venice was one of her favorites. She loved the aspects of revenge in this tale, and she would request it time and time again. There were many times that I would have just finished it the day before, and she would ask to hear it again.

Between the two shelves was a small piano, which had lived a fulfilling life as well. The top of the bench opened to reveal many of the songs that I had sung and danced to in my younger years. I remembered Christmas and birthdays in which we’d all gather around like so many of the families in the old Christmas movies.

Near the piano sat the old china hutch. I looked through the glass to see the memories that this piece of furniture held. The old Dutch characters and angels made of glass that I used to play with. Mother never liked me to play with them, as they were so fragile, but when she wasn’t looking, grandmother would hand them to me, winking with her mischievous grin. There were the crystal wineglasses that the adults would use during family dinners. If I had been good, grandma would let me drink grape juice out of one, so I looked just like all the others.

My sight moved across the room to the dining area. This was her favorite part of the humble apartment. There was a glass paned door that led into the room from the front area, and the entire dining room was enclosed in this same paned glass pattern. She would sit in there for hours, just looking through the glass as if she were dreaming of days past when she could walk downstairs on her own and feel the sun’s rays, uninterrupted by the glass.

I let these memories saturate my brain, as I began to go through her things. I sorted out the things I wanted, knowing that the rest would be shipped to The Salvation Army the next afternoon. I was excited to move in next week, and start the new memories.

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