Grandma has been transferred from the temporary department of the nursing home to the permanent residency one, and she needs a chest of drawers. So I said I'd clean out one of hers at home and bring it over.
Grandma is far more organized in regards to personal possessions than I am, though age brings out the bad habits and short-comings. The two chest of drawers that are in her bedroom are neatly filled; whatever is of value to her actually gets put away. I pulled out all the drawers on both. One had mostly clothes, the other mostly papers so I decided to empty the one with clothes. Papers take too much time to go through.
So began my task of going through Grandma's things (I can't stand the thought of someone else doing the same with my stuff, which is one reason why I want to declutter my home - but I digress). The top drawer and top of dresser was full of old cosmetics and skin care products. 99% was trashed. I found a letter from my mother to Grandma, about a painful family situation. I wondered what to do with it. The situation made Grandma so angry with her daughter, but now she may not even remember since her memory is really bad. I wondered why it was up to me to make a decision about it, then decided it wasn't. My job was to clear out the dresser, so I put the letter on top of the other dresser.
The top drawer turned out to be quite a treasure-trove of costume jewelry. I pulled out all sorts of beaded necklaces, some made from natural stones, some just glass and plastic, but all tasteful. I saw several items I would like to have and some that would suit my mother's coloring. I imagined going through all this together with Grandma, and the thought gave me a bittersweet feeling.
I have many fond childhood memories of Grandma's jewelry box. She not only kept beautiful beaded necklaces and rosaries, but also a huge collection of buttons, some quite special, and many quite fancy. I played a lot with those items. It was almost the same, going through her top dresser drawer, but now I was alone. No Grandma in the next room to be asked if I could play with this or wear that. Still, as per Grandma's request, we will be going through this stuff together at some point in order to sort what to keep and what to give away. I'm looking forward to that.
Old clothes, in sizes Grandma no longer can wear, juxtaposed memories of who she once was with who she is now, making my lonely but efficient hour and a half on her bedroom floor that much more poignant. Years of togetherness compressed into one evening, with The Who blasting on my iPod. A new era, this, with me being the competent, able-bodied adult.
A part of me still wants to be little Keera, playing with Grandma's jewelry, with Grandma healthy and capable just a room or two away.