The week we were in Hawaii, my grandmother moved into an assisted living center. We went to visit her on Sunday. Her room is super cute, with her most familiar furniture, a furry toilet seat lid, the snapshot of my grandpa stuck in the corner of the mirror, and walls covered with pictures of kids and grandkids and great grandkids. She was crocheting and there was a giant dish full of M&Ms - standard Grandma operating procedure - and it didn't seem that strange. It's been a long time since I spent any significant time at her house - she's mostly been living with my parents the last couple of years - and when I do go to that house it no longer feels like Grandma's house. I don't know why, it just doesn't.
I'm surprised by that, sort of like how I don't miss our old house and don't feel sad whenever we drive by it.
Grandma's new place is a fraction of her old place, so there's been lots of discussion around what to do with the house and all of her things. Some of it didn't fit in the new place, so they made it fit. My uncle makes cabinets and you should see how he resized and refinished her old coffee table, it's amazing. And some of it must go. Like the huge upright piano my grandparents bought my mother for her 12th (?) birthday for, I'm told, $50.
This piano is nearly as tall as I am. It's got a full set of discolored ivory keys. Back when it was cool to 'antique' things, my grandmother antiqued the piano so it has this terrible finish I could never quite identify. It has a stool that you wind up and down - we took many whirly dizzy rides on that stool. It's loud and clangy and horribly out of tune. It used to be the centerpiece of Christmases past, but no one has really played it in years. If we're at Grandma's house and we're staying longer than ten minutes, I usually sit down and bang out 'Red Roses For A Blue Lady', the one piece of her 40s and 50s era sheet music I can play without totally butchering.
A few weeks ago my mom asked me if I wanted that piano. She has no room for it and I knew she didn't want to get rid of it. And even though there is absolutely nowhere to put a piano in our little rental house, especially a piano of that SIZE, I despaired that she would get rid of it. It's GRANDMA'S PIANO. If there's anything about that house that I hold dear, it's that giant piano.
I told her to ask around, see if anyone else would take it, and if she couldn't I would figure out what to do. I would wrap it in plastic and stick it in my garage. Or something. I mean, we could get it tuned. Refinished. It could be beautiful.
Turns out my sister is going to take it. Thank goodness. I'm so glad I'll get to see it again.
Tonight my mom called about my grandmother's china. I already knew I was getting the set meant for my mother, but no one wants my aunt's set, so did I want two? Two sets of china?
I don't have any china. When I was getting married and people were talking about things like registering for china, I didn't see the point. Well, I also didn't want to register, but that's another story. We registered for plain white everyday dishes and I've never been sorry, but as I turned into my heavily domesticated in-love-with-table-settings self, I did start to wish for special occasion dishes. Like china. Even though most china I've seen is horrid.
A few years ago my friend The Bride flew up to visit and her new thing was antiquing (as in shopping for antiques, not weirdly refinishing your piano) so we went around to a few antique stores. I am not much for antiquing, since all I see is junk (I'M SORRY!) so I was mostly bored out of my mind while she poked around at furniture and lamps and knick knacky things. But I do remember her saying that you could pick up a whole set of china at an antique shop, and if she ever wanted her own set that's probably what she would do. I filed this away for future reference, assuming that one day I would break down and start hunting for my own. I even thought about buying a whole bunch of mismatched pieces, because wouldn't that be Interesting? And make me out to be Eclectic and Creative and Innovative to my dinner guests?
Then one year I hosted a table at the church tea party fundraiser and I needed a set of dishes with teacups and guess what - my DAD has china. His parents bought each kid a set of Bavarian china when they lived in Germany. It's white, with gold trim and tiny pink rosettes. I think it's hideous, but in a good way. You know? So I borrowed it and then I didn't give it back. I haven't used it since, and my mom still has half of it at her house, but I always thought: well, if I need china, I can always ask my mom for the rest.
But then my grandma moved into assisted living and I was informed that she had THREE sets of china, one for each of her daughters. And my mother didn't want hers. And one of my aunts didn't want HERS. And now I have two full sets of china (however many settings that may be, I have no clue) and my mother told me to make sure to hunt around all the cupboards because there are so many serving pieces.
Phillip is very excited about this, as you might assume.
I don't even know what this china looks like. I can't remember ever seeing it. My mom described it to me over the phone - with blue trim, smaller plates than you have nowadays, dainty - and swears it's not ugly, but even if it WAS. I suppose it sounds sort of trite and cliche, like wanting the jewelry or the crystal or whatever, and I don't have any memories of it like I do the piano, but it's my grandmother's china. Of COURSE I want it. One day I want to host Christmases and Thanksgivings like my grandmother did and now I'll have her fancy dishes too.