Recently, I had to clean out my grandmother’s home to prepare it for renters (she is in a nursing home). It was absolutely a gut and heart wrenching ordeal. How the hell do you deal with all of physical evidence of someone dear’s life? My answer was: large contractor bags, yard sales, boxes and boxes of ‘treasures’ smuggled into the house under sweet hubby’s nose and copious amounts of alcohol to sooth my emotional distress.
Many of the ‘treasures’ from Grandma’s house ended up in the hands of my little ones. Yesterday my little one was trying to ‘hypnotize’ her brother with what looked like a religious medal. I asked to see the medal and was a bit shocked to find the Serenity Prayer. I didn’t see Jesus or anything. I am still firmly agnostic, but I was captivated by this small medal. As best I could guess, it belonged to my great grandmother. But honestly, I don’t know. Someone in my family either liked the prayer or at some point joined AA. Interestingly, my great-grandmother was an infamous booze hound. She was adept at hiding her addiction. I had no idea she drank from sun-up to sun-down until my grandma and mom pointed it out to me as an adult. I wonder if at some point she tried to quit… The idea fascinates me. She lived until she was 96… She had no idea who any of us were for the last 10 years of her life… A cautionary tale, to be sure. I traded my little one the medal for a snowflake necklace. I like the idea of a found talisman…
Alcoholism is a blight on my family tree. I have an uncle who had disappeared (literally, no one can find him) into a bottle. My dad is a recovered or recovering alcoholic. His mother and father were both raging alcoholics. His mother succumbed to illnesses related to her alcoholism in her late 70’s Further, I was raised, largely, by well meaning grandparents who had ‘highballs’ everyday at 4PM. I had my first taste of booze at around 4 when I would finish the last sips of their drinks, mostly so I could crunch on the small ice cubes. My mom had an accident when I was 22 in which, during an overnight stay at a friends house, she walked into a dark stairwell mistaking it for the bathroom. My dad recently pointed out that this happened hours after margaritas celebrating her birthday. My mom wasn’t much of a drinker (she liked pills) but alcohol drastically altered her life. After the accident, she was a complete quadriplegic. She died 3 years later.
Another ‘treasure’ I inherited was an antique liquor cabinet. How is that for irony? Gains fully supplied (glasses and accessories- the booze was long gone) liquor cabinet, then quits drinking. The liquor cabinet became a reason to continue drinking for about a month after I knew my time was up. Now I am conflicted. What do I do with it? Do I keep it as a piece of history, repurpose it (I have thought about making it into a tea cabinet) or sell the damn thing? What kind of legacy do I want to pass down to my little ones?