Archives for October 15, 2012

Watch

The twins have this adorable habit: they ignore the seven bajillion toys that we own and instead wander around our house in their drunken way grabbing random objects and appropriating them as teethers. With three kids one and under, I’ve given up even the semblance of housekeeping, so I do very little to stop them. I mean, I take the bottles of whiskey and cleaning supplies out of their hands, but that’s about it. The lazy side of me keeps thinking I should just start cleaning with vinegar and baking soda and that would cut my work load in half.

So when I found a small velvet box in Charlie’s room, I wasn’t surprised, but I did assume that it belonged to my husband. Little known Mr. Bird fact–he has a think for cuff links and owns many, many pairs. We even check out the cufflinks when we’re shopping in thrift stores just to see if we can find anything special.

But I was talking about that box. I opened it up and expected to find some vintage cuff links and instead I found my grandmother’s watch. My aunt sent it to me several years ago and I’d meant to have it looked at to see if I could get it working, but life gets in the way sometimes (oftentimes), and there I was probably three years later having not done a thing to get the watch in working order.

I don’t remember a lot about my grandma at this point, but two things stand out: one, I thought she was completely nuts, and two, people loved her. As a young person, your sole goal in life is to blend in with the crowd. My grandmother was a lot of things, but she was never a blender.

black and white photo of a woman

She arrived in New Orleans from Honduras as a young woman with the intent of learning secretarial skills. Instead, she met my grandfather and got married. She danced to salsa music in her living room and loved her children fiercely. She tried to make me eat green beans when I was seven and I ended up sitting at the kitchen able for a very long time. We were both pretty stubborn.

She was a working woman long before it was fashionable and she was also the type of person who would try to barter down the price of a purse at Dillards. She volunteered, and cooked, and laughed, and lived life to its outer edges. When my grandfather had a stroke, she cared for him without a second thought. I remember her breaking down at Thanksgiving dinner one year when he was in the hospital. I was shocked. Surely she needed a break? Surely she was glad to have one less thing to deal with? Nope. Not her. She loved that man to the end.

When she passed away, her funeral looked like a keg party. It was crammed full of all the people whose lives she had touched. Her French teacher showed up! At seventy-plus she was learning her third language. Also of note: my grandmother had lied about her age for so long that when she passed away, no one was exactly sure how old she was.

I could write about her for days and not mention half of the things that I intend to.

Her dainty gold watch is mine now it fits perfectly on my wrist. I think I’m going to get it working–for real this time. It can serve as a reminder–to live life to the outer edges, to dance in the living room, to love fiercely.

older couple smiling

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