It’s Just Stuff…..Or Maybe Not

Isn’t it interesting how a single thing can hold so many memories and emotions inside of it?

Yesterday I was given a precious gift that took me back to being little and sitting at a counter eating biscuits just out of the oven, playing Monopoly marathons with cousins, and watching Granddaddy drink his coffee with a cup and bowl.  I was taken back to open windows and picking vegetables from the garden, walking down a dirt road in the heat of summer, and cooling off in the afternoons watching “Gunsmoke” in the house.  I once asked Granddaddy why he drank coffee in the summer, and he said it cooled him off.  It intrigued me that he tilted his cup over to pour some in the bowl to cool, and he drank that first.  I can see Granny standing on the other side of the counter, washing dishes looking out the window at the hummingbirds.  I can smell the honeysuckle and feel the sand in the sandpile under my feet.  And I can still see the baby pigs and the cows, and I remember going there and getting dirty playing with the cows before my Aunt’s wedding.  (And no, Mama wasn’t happy.)

All of that and so much more.  Just from holding one little really huge thing.

“It’s just stuff.”

I’ve heard that a lot in my life, especially in the past four years of having people I love leave this world and their stuff behind.  And I know it’s true.  It is just stuff.  And yet…..

The little turtle that sat at my Great Aunt’s in her bathroom on the shelf is memory-filled.  I talked to it a lot during the visits when I went to check on my Great Aunt while Mama and Daddy were at Emory and fighting the Giant.

Santa and Mrs. Claus. As best as I can remember, Granny and Daddy made this together.
Santa and Mrs. Claus. As best as I can remember, Granny and Daddy made this together.

The Santa that my Daddy and Granny made together sits on my mantle right now.  It takes me back to cold, gray winter days standing at the plate-glass window looking out over Granny’s front porch and into the fields across the dirt road.  I remember alternating sitting next to Santa, fascinated with how he was made, and backing up to the heater that warmed the house, standing next to my Daddy.  My favorite place to be.  Always.

The grandfather clock stays in my hallway taking me back to the wall of clocks that was in my Great Aunt’s house.  My Great Uncle loved clocks and figuring out what made them “tick.”  At one point, he had a whole wall of them.  Beautiful.  Steady.  Dependable.

The jewelry box and bag of crocheting and sewing notions bring back memories of all the wonderful needlework and crocheted projects my Mama’s Cousin put her time and love into over the years.  And the needlework I have of hers is a treasure and will be for generations to come.

The slotted spoon that belonged to my Great Great Aunt takes me back to  ice-cold Coca-Cola in the bottle in the kitchen before we’d go “into the house.”  Church’s chicken at the dining room table, complete with cherry pies.  And the big furnace floor grate that was fascinating and terrifying all at the same time.

There are little and not so little things all over my house that bring back memories.  I see the hands of the ones I love, winding a clock, stitching beauty into creation, cutting up a pineapple, stirring the butterbeans, pulling the corn from its stalk, turning the page of a storybook, and hands crossed behind a back to warm them by the fire.  Oh, their hands.  The ones that patted me on the head, held onto mine, hugged me close.  How I miss all of them.

It’s just stuff.

Maybe.  But the stories and memories each little or big thing holds tight within?  That is where the real treasure lies.  The stories are the reason I am so drawn to the stuff.  To see.  To touch.  To remember.  To hear their voices and the stories once again.  And to feel hugged and loved.  It’s not about the stuff.  It’s about the love behind them.

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