The flan box.

Posted by on 08.20.10 | 5 Comments
Filed Under Uncategorized

When my Dad’s Dad died, Dad’s Mom already having passed on as
well, my Dad and his three siblings chose to go to his retirement
apartment (in the Lutheran Village that Grandma and Grandpa moved to
which was 300 miles away from anyone in the family, which hurt all the
siblings) and try to make sense of the “estate”. The only time they
could all do it was the same week of the funeral. Hours after the
funeral, the thirteen grandchildren, all adults, were taken to the
home, and asked to put their name on any object that they wanted, and
lots would be drawn for any object with multiple names.

It was
insane. We were all terribly grieving, and still dressed for the
funeral, and had mud on our pumps from standing in the grass at the
burial. We wandered around hopelessly, claiming some things just to
show we were playing along. My sister and I drove away together in
silence, having collected the small things we chose. Then we suddenly
both started laughing and crying. “All that”, she says, “And here I am
with a bag of tupperware in my car.” “I have a stupid ball of
twine!!!!!! Twine!!!!!!!!”, I snorted.

All in all, I ended up,
in my haze, of really wanting nothing, but hoping for some touchstones,
or whatever: a ball of twine, a roll of tape, a pen knife, a very old
mechanical pencil from Grandpa’s workbench, an old aluminum cooler that
was spattered in paint (also from the work bench), a plant, and a floor

The process was too much and too hard. But the thing is, I
love all of these objects. They have become exactly what I’d hoped:
they are touchstones of my Grandfather. Even the twine, which I only
used up last summer.

Recently, I went to an open house/ moving
party for two of my friends, one of whom got accepted for a job in Portland last
Tuesday, which requires them to move by next Friday. For the Open House, they took all of
their food out of the pantry, as well as many objects and items of
furniture that they don’t want to move, and encouraged people to take
as many “door prizes” as possible. There is nothing like being at a
party where when one guest excuses themselves to go home, suddenly they
are taking the end table that your drink was sitting on with them.

walked out with: Three bags of modeling clay which dries permanently
in the air, a box of chicken flavored couscous, a single puck of
Abuelita chocolate, and a box of instant flan mix.

I hated and loved the process. But I may never eat the flan.

Both times, I thought that there was going to be something amazingly touching and important to find at these moments. Some great discovery of relationship between the people I love, and their things, which they no longer have use for. And that discovery was there. No treasure chests of secret cash stashes and gold chains with locket attachments unlocking generational secrets. A ball of twine. A box of flan mix.

For what I discovered, of course, was how much I loved the mundane, useful objects of the people that I loved. Not at all the put away things. The ball of twine. The box of flan, put in the cupboard. The tupperware container I was sent home with by a friend after her dinner party, that I’ve not yet returned. Five years later. The travel guide given me from someone who’s already been there, and who forgot some photos in it. A community of shared everydays.

I would never hope to do better, should I be asked to make those selections a dozen times.




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