A whole stack of memories
never equal one little hope.
-Charles M. Schulz
When my Great Grandmother Elizabeth's things were doled out after she left for heaven, I was in the height of my reporting career. As I remember it, the Iraq war was at a fever pitch; it was the week Saddam's statue toppled in Baghdad. CBS wasn't letting anyone off for anything. Participating in the packing of Elizabeth's things was not an option.
It's not as if I was the only, or even a remarkable, great-grandchild anyway. I wasn't local, or a namesake, or the oldest or the baby. So my parents carted home a few odds and ends for me that no one wanted: handsewn table cloths, meticulously cared for and worn with use. Linen napkins, mismatched, in odd numbers, and handmade. And odd sets of flatware, tarnished and incomplete.
I love them.
It's such a shame, isn't it, that we only know our grand and great-grandparents when we're young. If then. There are a million questions I'd like to ask Elizabeth now. There are a thousand things I'd like to learn from her. Things such as, How do you make your caramel pie? How'd you get your garden tomatoes so big? How do you sew on a treadle machine? What's the secret to your chicken and dumplings? How'd you keep such an unwavering faith through loss and war? Will you teach me to quilt?
Is it strange that I feel her absence more today than I did a decade ago?
Today, I flip through my stack of memories and momentos from her honest and handmade life, and hold onto my one little hope: that oneday I grow up to be a woman like Elizabeth.