Rachel "Sparks" Blackman (seattlesparks) wrote,
Rachel "Sparks" Blackman
seattlesparks

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[General] Birthday Round 2

My mother and aunt Sally just arrived on their cross-country road trip back from Philadelphia, along with Annie and Molly (Aunt Sally's two dogs). I went back to my parents' house for the actual birthday-cake (or rather, strawberry shortcake) tonight, and got pounced upon by the dogs and got to talk to Aunt Sally and all.

They brought what's left of grandma and grandpa's things, which was a little sobering. But I got a posthumous birthday gift from grandma -- two of her pocketknives, one which was her favorite and one which I loved. (Her favorite is a plain old penknife, half of what she took when she went camping. Grandma never took tents or anything when she went camping in college; she took a small waterproof container with precisely three matches, and her good penknife. She'd build a shelter with the penknife and deadwood when she found a good spot.) Her favorite needs a bit of repair before I bring it home, but I have the other -- a tiny little child-sized knife with an ivory handle -- here now. I also got -- and accidentally left at my folks' house -- dried flowers from the ancestral castle of one Scottish branch of our family, plucked, pressed and dried in 1891 before leaving for the states.

The real prize of the set, though, was an old envelope of my grandfather's. It was with his WWII military papers... but inside were Civil War military papers and a pass-through-lines for his... great-grandfather, I guess it was. Along with some civil war money. But that wasn't the best part... there were also papers from the Revolutionary War era, and /colonial/ paper money, dated 1752, carefully preserved. Now, old money is hardly that unusual in the family -- I just got a pre-Meiji paper bill (framed for display) for my birthday, and my dad has Roman coins which were minted in Augustus' era. But most of these were practically mint condition; they've been carefully preserved for generations.

My dad wanted to look through the paper money and military papers at the dinner table. With food out. I think I gabbled something frantically about acidic skin oils and fragile paper and generally spazzed out a'la former archeology major, until people agreed to put the money far away from the food and drink.

Still, I sit here with this little ivory knife. I see signs of my grandmother everywhere; when she traveled in Mexico, she picked up the little Mayan calendar pin which I got from her last year and always wear on my coat lapel. (It's evidently my recognizable feature in the local writing community; look for the redhead with the canvas-y jacket and the Mayan calendar on her lapel.) When she went exploring Egypt when younger, she picked up the golden ankh necklace she gave me a few years back... one of the very few necklaces I ever actually wear.

Even the computers and books are her touch; she's the one who taught me to love fantasy, to take an interest in chemistry and engineering, who encouraged me to write and who encouraged my interest in archaeology. Sometimes, I wonder if I'll ever stop seeing her around me, or if I'll ever stop feeling that empty place when I think that she's gone.

Sometimes, I'm not sure I'd want to.
Tags: life
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