« I've Fallen and I Can't Get Up | Main | I'm a (W)rapper »

The Keys To My Heart

When I was a little girl, I used to spend a lot of time playing over at my Nana's house.  We always called my mom's parents, Nana and Papa, and my dad's parents, Grandma and Grandpa.  Grandma and Grandpa lived up in Utah, so it wasn't very often that we got to see them...but Nana and Papa lived right down the street, and as a kid I viewed their home as a wonderland.

Papa was a rancher, so their property was home to any cattle he planned to breed, brand, or sell (the rest of the herd was kept at the actual ranch), plus all of his roping horses, his blue-heeler cattle dog named Jake, and more wild cats (with baby kittens hiding in the hay-stacks) than my sister and I could ever hope for.

As if that weren't enough, Nana was an artist...a crafter...and a collector.  She had an entire storage room dedicated to her crafting supplies, a huge collection of paint brushes, and countless other items (some treasure, some trash) to keep us kids entertained.

One of Nana's collections I tended to play with a lot was her set of skeleton keys.  In the world of my imagination, those keys could unlock any door, save any princess, or lock up any terrifying dragon that entered the kingdom.

Now, those keys are in my home...and I look at them every single day...

In the summer of 2001, my Nana passed away from cancer.  I was a Junior in high school, and since my family lived right down the street from their home, we were there every day from the diagnosis to the end.  It seemed like forever, but it actually was only around five weeks from the time she was officially diagnosed with cancer to the time she passed away.

I was able to say my goodbyes, but I'll also never forget her last moments with her family.  Watching her going through all of that pain, struggling to breathe, struggling to swallow, and barely able to speak.  

Every now-and then I'd catch a glimpse of her wincing in pain, then smiling so that nobody would worry for her.  She never complained.  She always smiled.

I'll never forget the family crowding around her bed.  Holding her hand.  Trying to find ways to laugh at joyful memories from the past.  Sharing with one another what we believed was to come.  Our Nana would be in Heaven, right there with the angels, and Nana would joke that her voice wouldn't be good enough to sing in the choir of the Heavenly Hosts.

It was a precious time...it was a dreadful time...but then it was over, and we were all left with only memories and tokens of the wonderful woman who had touched our lives.

I was happy to be given permission by the family to keep Nana's skeleton keys as my own.  They've traveled with me as I've moved from one apartment to the next, then ultimately here to my happy home. 

A while back, I found this soap-dish at Savers for $.50.  I thought it would be great if I repainted it then used it to hold jewelry, or other small items.  Then I got the idea to use it to hold some of the key collection.

I couldn't bare the idea of using the entire collection here, so I split it in half and painted some of the keys white, and painted the soap-dish gray.  The end result??  A modern take on an old-fashioned piece:

The keys sit on my coffee table--right there in the center of my home.  I see them every day.  I will keep them forever, out on display.  As for the rest of the keys?  I plan to frame them and hang them in a collage.  I want them all where I can see them, and where others can see them too.

They remind me of her goodness, and I aspire to be as kind-hearted as the woman she was.  She left me with her blood in my veins, and her gift for seeing the world through the eyes of creativity.  She left me with her optimism for life.  But most importantly, she left me with her love...and I can only hope that I left her with mine too.

Tell me, what is your favorite memory with your grandma?  Do you have any tokens that you keep to remember her by?  What are they, and what makes them sentimental to you?  Where do you keep them in your home, and how have you made them your own?  Share your stories, I'd love to hear!


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...


PrintView Printer Friendly Version

EmailEmail Article to Friend

Reader Comments (2)

Your story about Nana reminded me about my grandmother, Rura Woodall. Like Nana, she was very enjoyable to be around because of her fun personality. She kept us laughing for hours relating stories concerning every day events she encountered or family histories. She also had at least two rings of skeleton keys that we grandchildren enjoyed playing with when I was a child. In fact, it seemed that the keys were most popular and that I was only able to play with them if my family happened to arrive before all of the other cousins. The keys were even more intriguing because the doors leading into the bedrooms were still bearing doorknobs that required skeleton keys to lock and unlock. We played for hours trying to lock the doors, but it seemed that the right keys were never to be found. I don’t know what happened to the keys, but I think that Myra might have them. This is something that I am now interested in discovering. Who knows, maybe I will find that the skeleton keys are still in our family.
I only have three heirlooms from my grandmother. I have a picture of my father as a young boy in boy-scout uniform that my grandmother proudly gave to me as a present when I received my Eagle Scout award; I have my great-grandfather, Thomas Woodall's whiskey shot-glass which great grandpa used for obvious reasons and my grandmother used to hold toothpicks placed on her dining room table (the glass has a picture of a monkey on the front and is displayed in our living room knickknack cabinet); and I have a book that was given to me which bears a handwritten message, in her handwriting, just for me. As for Nana, the only heirloom that I have of hers is the cookie jar that sat on her kitchen counter. She gave it to me because she knew, as did my grandmother, that cookies with ice cream are my favorite desserts. Nana’s last words to me were, “I love you Eldon”. Nana’s best character trait is that we all knew we were loved even without saying. I miss Nana!
Love, Dad

May 6, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterEldon Woodall

Miss Grandma too!

From her I have the quilt she gave Mark and I for our wedding. I don't have too many other things of hers. Wish I would have known her a bit better.

May 10, 2012 | Registered CommenterAHPCH

PostPost a New Comment

Enter your information below to add a new comment.

My response is on my own website »
Author Email (optional):
Author URL (optional):
Some HTML allowed: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <code> <em> <i> <strike> <strong>