What Secrets Are Hidden In A Woman's Heart?

A Terrible Day

That October day, started like any other. Morning chores, big breakfast and off to high school. At 16, I had no idea how my young life was about to be altered and scarred.

The day was like any typical school day, until I was summoned to the principles' office. Knowing, I was not a disruptive student, I expected a review of high school credits I would need the next year to graduate.

He was standing just inside the office door, I was suddenly very afraid.

He said he had come to show me his new boat, it was a lie, we both knew this. We both knew only a terrible truth could be hidden behind such a bold lie. He would not anger my Grandparents by interrupting my education in such a way. I can hear my broken voice demanding, " tell me what the matter is".........he would not until my brothers joined us. Looking back, he must have known that we would cling one to the other, asking in unison, " what has happed to our Papa'? We would each be the prop, holding the others up. We would be united, together, we would once again embrace joy. But today, we needed one another as allies in a cruel world.

My uncle told us then, of our Grandmother's death. It was sudden. She had not been ill. She had gone about her morning chores, sat in her chair and simply,......... died. We did not know yet that this could happen. You either went to war, ( Viet Nam), had a car crash or were sick. Just quietly die? How could this be true? How could this be true of our feisty, "Granny"? We did not understand............we never would.

Who would be my 'mama' now? I was too young to be without one.

 

This Is Not About Grief

You know what grief and loss are. You have endured your own.

This is about discovery, and wonder.

It would come, many years later. My own daughters, as young children, would witness my journey.

What lies inside?
What lies inside?

Granddad Keeps On Going

Though he was some 12-15 years older than his wife , and generally considered in be a more frail health than she had been, Granddad outlived my Grandmother by almost 20 years.

He knew he was approaching the centurion mark, and he must have known his time was short. He called his daughter, a favored daughter-in-law, and instructed them, it was time, he said, to finally, review and divide up my Grandmother's things. They were instructed that they may keep what they like, as long as it was by mutual agreement. Should a disagreement arise, he would serve as judge. Quilts, treadle sewing machines, grape presses, apples peelers, grinders, nut crackers, and ancient secrets found themselves in new hands.

They were also instructed to leave alone the cedar box at the foot of her bed. They were to neither remove it, or open it. That particular box was to be left for and opened by " Sissy".........that would be me. He sent for me, and I came at his will.

How could he have known, that as a child, I knelt at that box, tracing the smoothness of the wood, inhaling the fragrance? Did he know how I longed to open it, and look inside? Had my Grandmother told him of the times that I pleaded for just one short look? Did he know, that I would suddenly be afraid of what I might find there? I wish I had dared to ask him these questions. He was the kind of man you obeyed without question. Even though, I was now grown, I could not violate that respect. Like my aunts, I simply followed and complied.

I thought it was about the 'box'. There was no indication that it was about me..........none.

The cedar box was once the fantasy of my girlhood, on this day, it caused great trembling. I had never before stood in the face of such a fear. I could not lay this fear at the feet of my young children or on the back of an old and much worn man. It must be faced by me. The box, it was , after years of wanting to, finally time, for me to open the box......Now at the edge of girlhood fantasy, I knelt before it, very afraid.........suppose the contents would not live up to my expectations.....suppose.....NO, I could not tease my mind any longer.

If only my Grandmother were here, guiding me.......

 

Not just an old doll........afterall.
Not just an old doll........afterall.

Emptying The Box

I pulled her out with great care, just as she must have been placed there years ago. She had lain on my Grandmother's bed, for years. I could not recall when she had left there or why. I had not thought of her. Surely, she was not put away to be kept safe from my childish hands......I had never been enticed by her. But here she was, among the other treasures I would find.

A doll, I was never intrigued by.

A ball cap that had been my Dad's as a small boy. My Daddy was once a little boy? How delightful! What a stretch of my imagination........a man, who stood guard over my tomorrows, had yesterdays.........?

A photo of my Mom, I knew it was her, I just knew it, on her wedding day.....and another on the day I was born, in another, she was holding a dog. Don't I too, like animals? I had not seen these before. I had to step outside, lest I choke to death in front of my own daughters. Even now, in this telling, they suffocate me. The pain must be stifled away unless I will my own drowning.

I returned to the box.

There was a shirt box, removing the lid, and unfolding the tissue paper......I instinctively knew.......

My mother's braids. My own hair would never be this long. Who requested that they be placed there for me?

A childish drawing......I do remember this. I knew it was not good, even as a first grader, I knew. Mrs. McCoy had simply spoken words of encouragement   My eyes had seen better drawings. A crayon picture, covered in wax.......yet, my Grandmother had treasured it enough to place it in 'the box'.

A baby food jar, filled with water and an artificial flower in bloom. How could she have treasured such a thing? A childish attempt to make beauty of cheap plastic? Yet, that was exactly what she had done........found beauty in childish attempts. By this time, I had done the same, I had a 'Mama's Box'......I understood....the gift is about the one who gives......

A piece of handmade lace......from the hand of my Grandmother's mother. It was well made, a piece of Americana. It was and still is, gorgeous, delicate, feminine. It reminds me of a day long passed........my Grandmother witnessed the passage of time. As I , would later witness my own passages.

A womans' high heeled shoe, covered in macaroni and then spray painted gold. A cheap child's gift. No farm woman would wear this to the milk barn, where had it come from? Why was this treasured? My Grandmother was the keeper of my childhood........and of my tomorrows.

Then , among the childish treasures, I found..........the book.........

I Had To Know

Sending my children out to play, I knelt beside my Grandfather. With all of the courage I could muster, I questioned him..............it was not as difficult as I had feared. He was truly a gentle man. Strength deceives a child.

The doll was purchased for me by my mother. My Grandmother, who once held it for herself, had put it away, thinking I would one day treasure it also.

The childish drawing and gifts, were indeed just as I had remembered. Mementos of my little girl days.

My Dad's mother had donated the ball cap......aware that life can change, and she may not be there to present it to me 'someday'........

The braids........yes, they were my Dad's idea. There would be questions over the years. A man not would feel at home with such questions.......a girl would need her mother's touch. I would have no memories of my own. They must be given to me. There should be something that a girl could touch and see, something that she could put her hands upon. She must hold the same things that her mother once touched. Put the braids in the box for her.

The book..........He did not know of it. He had no clue.....Had she herself read it? What did it symbolize to her? Was there a message? How could I decode it? Did it have a meaning to me? Or was it simply something, she thought was worthy of retelling? My Granddad, for the first time in my life, had no answers.......he was himself, bewildered by the woman he loved.

This secret of my Grandmother's heart may never, will probably never, be unlocked. Each time, I see the book, upon my shelf, I think..............of her.

And I wonder........why, please tell me why.

Is there a reason, a lesson, a tradition................or do you simply wish to be thought of?

 

The Book

The book my Grandmother left in a box to be opened by me..........

I can not fit it into the puzzle. It makes no sense........fits no pattern. It is not anything that I would expect from her. Indeed, my Grandpa was baffled.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Albert_Payson_Terhune

"Famous Hussies of History"............WHY did my Grandmother leave me such a book, written, even before my own birth? It was a book written during her own youth. There has to be a reason, she left no note, nothing written the pages.

 

My Grandmother left me the gift of wonder, of questioning, of wanting to know........is THAT her  final gift?

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Comments 14 comments

coffeesnob 6 years ago

Well, if you ever figure that one out I hope you will let us know. That is a mystery...


onegoodwoman profile image

onegoodwoman 6 years ago from A small southern town Author

Coffeesnob,

After half of my lifetime, I no longer

expect to understand........only to enjoy

and embrace the wonder. It serves me now

as a reminder that I do not know everything.

I invite you and others to look at

other times and stir memories.

Thank you for the reading. I appreciate

your time and commentary.


Judicastro profile image

Judicastro 6 years ago from birmingham, Alabama

When my mom was growing up her mothers greatest fear was that she embarrass the family in some way, not just her but all the sisters. The boys not so. Who knows what was behind your grandmothers thoughts but the thought that came to me was that her desires were along the same lines as my grandmothers. Loved the hub. So reminded me of when I was 13 and I was called to the office at school to hear the news of my dad's death. He was only 50, I still miss him.


Dave Mathews profile image

Dave Mathews 6 years ago from NORTH YORK,ONTARIO,CANADA

What a touching story,I loved it and I feel for you and all of the mixed emotions all of this took you through,but I feel you are much stronger for it all. God Bless.

Brother Dave.


onegoodwoman profile image

onegoodwoman 6 years ago from A small southern town Author

JudiCastro,

Yes, I would expect to always

miss your Dad.

Life is strange at times.


onegoodwoman profile image

onegoodwoman 6 years ago from A small southern town Author

Brother Dave,

Thank you for your kind words.

The journey must mean something

to make it worth the taking~~

Glad to have you here.


giselle2323 profile image

giselle2323 6 years ago from Peterborough, Ontario

Thank you for sharing such a personal part of yourself. Your Grandmother must of been quite an interesting woman. From what I have read of your work, her memories seem to live and breath within you. You are blessed.


onegoodwoman profile image

onegoodwoman 6 years ago from A small southern town Author

Giselle2323,

Hi!

You are correct,......I can see her

clearly and feel her touch still.


Karanda profile image

Karanda 5 years ago from Australia

You do know your Grandmother was there, guiding you, don't you? She seems to be very present in all your writings and I can certainly sense she was here with you for this one. What wonderful memories, thank you so much for sharing them.

The thing I like most about Grandmas, is that they continue to inspire us, long after they are gone from this world.


onegoodwoman profile image

onegoodwoman 5 years ago from A small southern town Author

Hi There Karanda!

Seems like it's been a while.....

In my case, it is certainly true, as

she reared me from a tiny tot.

Thanks for coming by, you are always

welcome here.


Erin LeFey profile image

Erin LeFey 5 years ago from Maryland

What a beautiful personal story. Thank you for sharing it. Love and Peace.


onegoodwoman profile image

onegoodwoman 5 years ago from A small southern town Author

Erin LeFey,

Glad that you enjoyed it.

Welcome to my hub! Hope to see

you again.


Ask_DJ_Lyons profile image

Ask_DJ_Lyons 5 years ago from Mosheim, Tennessee

There was a lot of suspense in your tale that made me want to read the next paragraph and the next and the next ... all the way to the end. It was very touching and brought tears to my eyes. Thank you!


onegoodwoman profile image

onegoodwoman 5 years ago from A small southern town Author

Ask_DJ_Lyons

What a wonderful thing for you to say and for me to read!

Thanks for your kind words. It makes it worth it to tell the tale.

Hope to see you again.

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