I came home this afternoon to find two boxes waiting for me. Both were from my father in Oklahoma City. I knew what was inside but I didn't know exactly what I would find.
My grandmother, Dorothy, passed away a little more than two years ago. She left behind a huge legacy - some great and some not so great. As her only granddaughter I had the opportunity to have an exclusive relationship with her. She had high hopes for me - that I would become a great physician, marry a wonderful man and move back to Oklahoma.
I didn't become a doctor much to her dismay though over time she accepted my chosen profession of midwifery, in fact she often bragged that I was a graduate of the best midwifery school in the country and it was an Ivy! I did marry a wonderful man who, as it turns out, is a physician so I guess I came close enough to the doctor thing for her. She was one of the few in the family who supported our engagement as Mitch and I are not the same faith. Her final wish was not granted. I never did move back to OKC and visited infrequently, less and less after graduate school and even less once I started my job as a midwife. I toyed with the idea with moving home but I knew that I never could. Not that Oklahoma doesn't have its bright spots - really that had very little to do with decision.
My father is a bright man who suffers from an illness that makes him a bit...unpredictable. Over the years I got used to this and learned to live with it until I really couldn't and moved away to be educated. The stories are endless and so there is no need to detail them here. But there is one story that relates back to these boxes.
As Dorothy approached her final months, my father's actions became more and more erratic. He cut his family off and went into a dark and crazy place. Upon her death, my father held an estate sale the day before Dorothy's funeral. I flew into town to lay my grandmother to rest and ended up having to frantically go through her belongings and pay for what I wanted. There was little time and much emotion making the whole process gut-wrenching. I paid for what I knew Dorothy wanted me to have and grabbed a few other of her personal belongings including her signature purses and decoupaged lunch box.
A few months earlier my father had removed her Singer Featherweight and promised me that it was mine. I did manage to get it out of my parents' house the weekend of her funeral and have safely stored it in my sewing room ever since. Recently I unpacked it to teach Lucy to sew but found it too emotional to actually work on the machine.
In these boxes that I received today were the rest of her sewing supplies. The attachments for her machine, instruction manual, sewing needles, patterns, thread, scissors, lace, fabric. Can you believe that the thread actually smelled like her? I went through each box, untangling thread, organizing needles and testing scissors. I cleaned out what was no longer needed or was too old to use (elastic) and neatly arranged the rest in a box to be taken upstairs. The fabric I will give to Lucy for dress-up.
The day that I had to buy my own grandmother's belongings was one of the worst days of my life. It was a blur in the midst of insanity. But with these boxes full of sewing notions I feel that my father is trying to mend things, make it right again. I appreciate that and will accept from him whatever he is willing to offer.