It’s funny what your life boils down to.
A few weeks ago Mike’s grandmother died. It seems cold to put it so matter of factly. To state in a 7 word sentence the passing of such an amazing woman, but as my darling husband has pointed out on many an occasion, I’m cold to keep myself from crying.
It’s true. If something hurts me I’m likely to keep any talk of it short, sweet and to the point (unless I’m feeling like an emotional mess and I feel the need to sob and ruminate on the matter).
This afternoon Mike, K and I went to Oma’s duplex. It had been years since we’d been there. Years. Normally we saw her at his Aunt’s house, his parents’ house, restaurants or even here in our home. We’ve known since she passed that we’d have to go there. Make that trip. See her home, her things, her kitchen sink with a washcloth slung over the faucet.
Today was that day. For many Labor day was a holiday. A day off. Fun at the beach. Maybe a day to sleep in laze about. For us it was the end of Summer and more. It was the end of the blissful ignorance. No longer can we pretend that Oma is sitting happily at home baking kuchen and watching Perry Mason.
So we went to her home and we pawed through her things looking for something of worth. Not because we could sell it and make a pretty penny. Not something of financial value… something of true worth. Something that, each time we looked at it we could smile and think of her. I encouraged K to find a small token. A trinket that she could set on the shelf with her snow globes and other valuables. Something that would make her smile and think of Oma each time she saw it. It wasn’t long before she found just such a thing. Mike too was able to pick a few items that made him smile and think of her. Things she’d brought over from Germany, the place of her birth. Glasses, a vase, a few knickknacks that held meaning for him.
As I helped Mike and K look at things that might hold a special place in their heart I found myself pulled to simple things. Things that I knew she must have touched a thousand times. Decks of playing cards with notes scribbled on the lids of their boxes, a small leather coin purse, a silk pouch full of handkerchiefs and two aprons, home sewn and well loved.
It reminded me of the days after Oma died. How I stood in the kitchen trying to make a pie but all I could think of was her smiling face, her oft repeated phrase “That’s so nice” and her warm heart and smile. I dissolved into tears as I pressed a crust into a Pyrex pie pan and couldn’t leave the house. I was too fragile. Too ready to give into the tears tugging at my heart.
As we loaded up the car with things from Oma’s house I smiled and held K close to me. This was the first death to affect her. Her first real loss, but as I placed the last item, a heavy cement garden gnome, into the back of the car I couldn’t help but think of the day our Garden Gnome was stolen and how hurt and angry it made her.
We’d named him George after Mike’s Grandfather. His Oma’s second husband.
The gnome I was lifting into the car sat outside of Oma’s house for years. Mike’s grandfather had made it himself. Poured the concrete, painted him, placed him in the garden outside their home.
This post is growing less and less coherent by the second. I wanted to tell you about our gnome. The one that was stolen from our front yard. How we’d named him George after Mike’s step-grandfather who liked to make things from cement. How he was stolen from out yard as we munched on dimsum with friends. How K wept for our lost friend. And then to tell you about this old little gnome that Grandpa George, a man who died long before I had a chance to meet him, had made.
The long and short of it is that we have a new gnome now. One that was made with love and care. One that sat outside of Oma’s home for decades. One that we can love. We’ve named him George (again) because we don’t know if he had another name and it seems only fitting to name him after the man that made him. A man that Oma loved. And if anyone steals him I’m going to chase that waste of life down with my last breath while wearing an apron that Oma made with her own two hands and I’ll beat them with a deck of playing cards until they’re within and inch of their life or until they give him back.
Because nobody fucks with my family. Or our gnome.