It has been a long time since I traveled alone with just a toddler in tow. She frets and plays on the long ride, but mostly she sleeps the trip away. For me, the sole driver, life is suspended for the passage of miles. I imagine myself caught in an elevator between floors. The only real difference is that I have some control over what music plays. My monkey mind dances to the tune.
The car is packed to the roof with North Country fare. There are enough fresh picked blueberries to both eat and freeze. The syrup alone makes up for a passenger. But mostly the seats of absent passengers are filled with things from my grandparent’s house. There has to be a metaphor in that somewhere.
It has been eight months since Grandpa died. The arduous task of sifting, sorting, distributing is beginning to wind down. I claim no credit here. The burdens and privileges were for a generation before mine. Now the estate sale is just a few weeks away. My Grandparents left no shortage of interesting and useful things.
Price tags on memories. The possessions are in a state of flux: personal belongings are transforming into assets of the estate. It is all just stuff now; stuff that they left behind. Now that the immediate family has taken choice, strangers will be able to pay dollars for leftover things. Dollars will wash the memory trail clean. In another house they will begin a new life with new meaning.
My traveling companion will have no memory of her Great Grandparents. I shift the rearview mirror to glimpse at her sleeping face. Right now the blueberries have more meaning in her world. They are her new favorite fruit. The family bible, the tiny china dolls, the smocked pillow mean nothing yet. They are stepping stones I have collected for traveling into the world that came before her. One day she will use them to prompt us, and we will share our memories. Lessons of heritage come through heirlooms.
My dad handed me the box marked “Grandpa Yandeau’s Candy Jar” with instructions. It needs to be filled with hard candy, specifically butterscotch flavor (with the possible exception of Horehound). He recalled how Grandpa Yandeau would use a hammer to break hard candy, then share the pieces small enough that he couldn’t choke on them. Grandpa Yandeau was my Grandma’s father. He was short, a veteran, worked on the railroad and they lived in Rochester. I have no memories of him of my own.
The lights and city traffic pull my monkey mind into the present. Highway driving is better suited for deep thought. The elevator, once stuck, lurches into motion. In two word sentence structure my traveling companion requests “music off”. I pull up in front of our apartment in a car load of North Country fare and memories. I am happy to see my companion by the door waiting to help me unload.
I hope that this letter has found you and yours in good spirits and good health. Until I write again…