Monday, September 21, 2009

Rescue me

I am sure that plenty of you have/had grandparents whose homes were filled with old things, the things memories are made of.

My grandparent's home was totally the opposite. My grandmother always liked to have the newest/brightest stuff out there. She had no appetite for antiques, unlike my grandfather who loved going to auctions and picking up interesting old stuff.

Their home held precious little from our pasts. No toys from her children's childhoods, nothing from their own childhoods, no closets stuffed with memories or interesting old "junk".

In fact, there is a long held family tale about an aluminum Christmas tree. My grandfather brought the tree home in the 1960's, thinking it was the most wonderful thing he had ever seen. My grandmother thought it was the most beastly thing on earth and tossed it right into the yard!

Once I started to be interested in antiques my grandfather would tell me about that tree and muse that he was sure I would have loved it. (How lucky I felt when I managed to find one I could afford at long last, only two weeks ago!)

Anyway, I think the lack of stuff like that around me is why I really seek out old things now.

Cleaning out their house has yielded very few things that made me excited in that junking kind of way, but here are the meager few contributions to my own collections:
A vintage Ohio art sandpail. I always admire these in those country living photoshoots. I found this one in a box of garbage in the garage. (Literally garbage. There was 20 year old potting soil and trashy plastic pots in the box.)
A glass candle ornament. (Kind of hard to see there, sorry.) Also found in the garage, also amongst garbage. Actually, it's kind of miraculous that this thing is still around. It was on the garage floor, near heavy boxes of old tiles, in a pile of leaves and really faded fake flowers off my grandmother's grave. I bent down to pick up what I thought was just a candle clip and up came the ornament.
And the best find, a vintage doll quilt. It's actually the saddest find for me as well. It was in a box of my old doll clothes in the basement, and I squealed when I uncovered it.

Of all the quilts I have managed to collect I have NO doll quilts. And this one was clearly mine as a child.
But I don't remember it at all. :-(

Because my childhood was abusive and crappy in so many ways I have developed what I lovingly refer to as "swiss cheese head". Essentially I have very little memory of growing up. Even now, I find myself unable to remember a lot of things that "normal" people would remember. Like my husband's birthday. (If only I were joking.)

I filter things in and out like a whale filters baleen.

It was clearly a survival strategy for me as a child.

So, I dug this sweet little quilt out, and I *knew* it was mine, it was in *my* things, in *my* grandparent's basement, and yet, it is not in the swiss cheese head anywhere.

C'est la vie I suppose.

And that brings me to the last thing I have time to say today, I want to thank all of you who have been there with me and for me this year.

I am surprised every day that so many of you are still on this crazy journey with me.

Clearly I am working through a lot more than just my grandfather dying over here. I am finding myself in the middle of trying to really and truly digest my past. To accept it and move beyond it ONCE AND FOR ALL.

The swiss cheese head has not been enough to get me through this part. It has required constant pushing on my part.

Pushing to remember it. Pushing to forgive it. Pushing to focus on what was good.

Right now I am *this* close to being on the other side of that stuff.

This has, in many ways, been a real rescuing of Sarah. A time to truly make peace with the past so that it blends a little better with the life I know and love right now.

Perhaps *that* is the gift my grandparents truly left me.


  1. What a beautiful post. Your treasures among all the garbage are so representative of your life. You a remarkable young lady. I can't wait to see how this all turns out. Hugs!!

  2. What a great post. I admire how real and honest you are on your blog. I'm glad you've shared the journey with us. Some of the things you've gone through I've also had happen to me and I think you are really brave to share those things and how you feel about them. Here's to you! :)

  3. I am so proud of you and the progress you have made on this journey. I feel for you both up hill and down. Please continue to let us ride along.
    Congratulations on the baby quilt. someday that memory may just fade back in when you least expect it.

  4. I'm still here with you, Sarah, even though I don't often comment. I think that, given the intensity of your story, my comments would sound banal and trite. Needless to say, you're in my thoughts as you plod through this very difficult time. Here's hoping that somewhere along the road you uncover happy memory to sustain you.

  5. I love your blog,I haven't been here a year...I don't think but I always read even when I don't comment. Your grandma sounds like my mom. She throws everything out. If it is old it cn't be any good..right?
    Love the baby quilt!

  6. aw, i'm glad you are finding healing in it all. What you say could have been written by me as well...the swiss cheese. I don't remember anything under age 6 except blurts and not good blurts. It's hard because some things you want to remember (for sister and family) but survival instints block it all. I also wish i could see some pictures of me as a kid. I'd love to compare to my own kids. It's kind of weird not to know what i looked like when i was born etc. I hope you do a lot of healing and growing. I'm rooting for you...

  7. Sarah, this is such a wonderful post. I can't believe how you sound. I'm sorry that it has taken the deaths of your grandparents to bring you to a a place where you can cross the swiss-cheese threshold. But I am glad for you and proud of you that you are working so hard for yourself.

  8. I'm so happy to hear that you are seeing the light out of your emotional tunnel. I bet that light is glorious for you. Keep moving ahead, girl. I'm here to push you.

  9. The stuff you did find was really great. Frankly, I am personally relieved. I was already pre-envious of all the vintage that surely had to be there. LOL Seriously, though, I am really excited for you and for this journey. A nice house of ones own couldn't happen to a nicer person. Restores my shaky faith in anything like karma.

  10. I have to tell you that following you through this year has been very interesting to me! Because through it all, you've managed to keep your sense of humor, and remain a great mom to Jack. Many would have cracked under the pressure, but you persevere!
    Maybe one day you will remember your dolly quilt, once you've pushed past all of this, and you're on the other side. It sure is cute!
    P.S. My memory is more like limburger cheese. It's rotten, and it just plain stinks!

  11. I think sometimes it takes physical work (like demolishing a house and sorting through garbage) to help us do that mental work, too. I never dug as many flower beds as I did the year my grandmother died. When I see them now, it's like a part of her is still here. Hope you'll have the same comforting feeling in that wonderful new house.

  12. It is not unusual for a person with a traumatic past to lose memories. It's called compartmentalizing and it is how we keep from going crazy. Finding something that brought you happiness (your doll quilt) is a good thing, even if you cannot connect memories to it. Relax and enjoy the fact that you have something positive from your past. Thanks for sharing. The quilt is very sweet.

  13. Im glad you were able to find a few things. Especially that quilt.

    My mom & grandma had tons of things, things I would certainly buy at a yardsale or thrift shop. When they died, I was too young and wild to think about it (when my grandma died, I was 16. I dont even know what became of her stuff) and hadnt realized how much I like this stuff (my mom, I was 21). My aunt cleared out everything in a yardsale.

    I think you're really brave for being able to share this stuff, and I am glad you're hanging in there. ((HUGS))

  14. I have "swiss cheese" brain as well... the doll quilt is absolutely beautiful. I'm so sorry for all that you've been through, but you have shown through your blog that you are an incredibly strong woman. It takes a lot to choose to confront the past. You should be feeling proud of yourself. Big hugs


  15. I love your honesty! Wish I could be that honest! It is going to be fab when it is all done:)

  16. Anonymous6:45 AM

    I am totally impressed by how much work you have gotten done. I bet you are sleeping well at night being exhausted. It will soon be 'your home' , with your things and your style. Yah, real 'brady bunch' outside. har har and you are already making that yours too. Good for you. Am really looking forward to progress pictures. Way to go .


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