Saturday, January 2, 2016

Keeping it in the Family: Grandma's Beaver

Before I came along Hubs hadn't attended the number of funerals (that he could remember outside very young childhood) that I had, so when death began touching those he loved, he began blaming my arrival.

"You're bad luck for me."
I felt for him. Nobody should be so well versed in the layout of a mortuary, the inner workings of the re-configurable curtained rooms and the protocols of receiving lines and sympathy card baskets and casseroles and having a black dress on standby and black pair of pants on standby for your chubby years.
So when in a few painfully quick years I said both hello and goodbye to some of those who had a hand in forming this man that I was in love with, it was sad. Every. Damn. Time.
We also saw the awful creep of dementia take over the minds of our grandmothers, mine too far gone before he met her, passing when our older two were small, his seeming to keep clarity until his grandpa began to forget. Him forgetting more and more, her remaining steady almost but not quite until we lost him too.
When it came time to edit down his grandma's belongings to those things that would fit in the room she was moving into where she would have around the clock care, my MIL set aside a few things, a box of books for my kids and she said she had something for me, too.
A fur. Not her mother's. Her GRANDmother's.

What the Hell?

"No. I can't take this," I had protested. I was sure someone else wanted it. I was sure someone else needed to have it.

She pushed back. Hubs had bought me a vintage Persian curly lamb fur for an obscene price off E-bay several birthdays back, and she thought I was just the person to keep this one. To treasure it.

I did what every normal person does. I carefully wrapped it back in the plastic JC Penney garment bag from someone's March 20, 1996 silk navy blue shell size small that was picked up at the Lewiston store #1165-0 (I only know all this because I worked there in high school and college) which someone had scrawled on in black sharpie:
  • Extra sheets
  • cases
  • pad
  • potpourri

And I hung it in the back of my closet so that my nutella-and-graham-cracker-crumb-fingered children could never ever ever touch it.

Livin' La Vida Loca

My MIL does this thing at holidays. She gets out these really nice dishes and this really nice silverware and it's all super old and belonged to her grandma and then she gets all certifiably crazy by letting our children eat off it.

So many bodies this time she had to
break out the Fiesta Ware, too.

And EVERYONE gets a wine glass.

Cheers to grandma! She's the best! 

And all us moms are like "do not be rough with grandma's dishes or we will murder you" and she's all like "it's fiiiiiiiiine, my grandma used to cook for like 47 ranch hands every day on these things and dragged them across the mountains on donkeys or something".

And then they get banged around in the sink and my FIL yells in there to make sure nobody is putting mashed potatoes down the disposal (note: THEY'LL TURN TO CEMENT IN THE PIPES!!!) and then she puts them back in the china cabinet for the next gathering.

Easter. Thanksgiving. Christmas. Wash. Rinse. Repeat.

And I thought about this as I spent New Years Eve 2014 snuggled up to my sewing project: finally moving on from a wrongdoing by the fur cleaners and giving new life to my Persian curly lamb fur by attaching new buttons to replace the ones they'd removed to clean and just...well...just nothing. Ever.

And since we were smack in the middle of hockey season, I decided that bad boy was gonna get some use. I'm not really the kind of person who would support the NEW fur industry, but these baby lambs have been dead since 1940. What am I gonna do about it now?

Anyhoo, something pretty amazing happened.

People gave me a little extra space on the bleachers. They didn't get too close. Probably because I smelled like an old wet dead sheep. But still. And it was a little bit great. And to be honest, I think the other team looked at me like I was bat shit crazy and thought my kid must be too. And so I just started wearing it all the time. And Hubs and I look RI.DICK.YOU.LUSS. together.


This hockey season started again without Hubs having taken me to a Governor's Ball. Or a Presidential State Dinner. Or to Red Lobster for that all-you-can-eat shrimp thing. We missed that, too. So I was like:
"You know what? What am I saving this thing for? For a DAUGHTER to hand it down to? The closest we can hope for is that one of our boys would be into wearing lady-clothes and even then...would he be into vintage? Probably not."

Or maybe he will, and if he IS into vintage, I'll love him just the same. But for now, I'm not letting this fur collect dust in my closet. So I started wearing it. And the results are in: people are kind of in love with the fur. Both of them.

Me, my sweet MIL, and The Beav.

An older woman approached me after today's game in Coeur d'Alene. She had to have been the grandma of one of the Thunder players. She petted my sleeve.

"I LOVE your mink."

"Thank you. It's a beaver," I told her. "It was her grandmother's," as I pointed to my left.

"Oh I knew it had to have belonged to someone and been passed down. It's beautiful."

Of course, you know I think that things are just things. Stuff. It's the stories the things tell that interest me the most, and the best story this fur has is this:

One night in her older years, Great-Grandma Verle was in a drinking establishment with her daughter (Hub's grandma) when it began to rain. She got fussy and lipped off to her ride:

"Let's go. I have to go right now because if my beaver gets wet it will start to stink."

Yes. This is definitely mine now. Forever.

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