What I Shed Today

lightening up a little at a time

– Grandpa’s frames with still-life prints

on March 27, 2016

Grandpa Elmer and Grandma Trudy, my father’s parents, lived north of Columbus, Indiana, on R.R. #1 (the post office’s abbreviation for “rural route one”). We lived east, on R.R. #4. Only a few miles lay between … indeed, when I got a little older, I once rode to Grandma and Grandpa’s on my bike, and not by the shortest route. I realize now how fortunate I was to grow up so close to them and to visit so frequently—nearly every weekend and holiday of the year. Their house was almost like a second home to me. I still remember every room, its decoration and many of the furnishings.


The cypress knee and piece of petrified wood on the display shelf close to the front door were special and needed to be touched like totems every time I was there. I didn’t ask to handle Grandma’s collection of souvenir shot glasses, but I liked to look at them. Other items were just “there.” They didn’t have anything to do with me or, it seemed, with Grandma and Grandpa. They were just ordinary accessories to a house. Like the framed set of still life prints in their front room.

Not everything that’s passed down in one’s family is an heirloom.

But those, it turned out, meant a little more to my father. Some years later, when Grandma and Grandma’s health declined and they had to move to a retirement home, he took the pictures. “Dad made these frames,” he told me. I looked at them with fresh and appreciative eyes. I’d worked in “the trades” on and off at that point, and I knew a well-executed mitre cut when I saw one. “Do you know anything about the prints?” I asked. “No, I think they were just something he liked,” Dad said.


But they never found a place on a wall of my parents’ homes. Mom is a gifted water-colorist; one of my brothers makes exceptional photographs. Gallery space is scarce. Somehow, somewhen, Grandpa’s frames and prints came to me. The prints don’t please me (they recall the interior decoration of “home cookin’” restaurants), but I always thought I’d mount something else in the frames.

But a truth I’m having to face is that we don’t have anything that quite fits, in size or style. Another is that not everything that’s passed down in one’s family is an heirloom. I’ve repeatedly offered Grandpa’s frames and prints to my brothers and sisters, and they don’t want them either. Maybe a cousin would … but probably not.


I’ve got Grandpa’s big screwdriver, his brace and bit, and his 65-year-old Craftsman ¼-inch electric drill; every time I use them his spirit is with me. I don’t get that spark off the frames. So they’re a hook I’m finally going to let myself off of. If I need forgiveness for that, well, I ask it. He was a good man. I can accept it as given.

shedding style: give away
destination: thrift store

Comments welcome … are you hung on the hook of any un-heirlooms?


2 responses to “– Grandpa’s frames with still-life prints

  1. Now this is interesting because I think it’s all too easy to consider inherited items to be ‘heirlooms’. I inherited most of my grandmother’s furniture and it took quite a while to convince myself that some of it I just simply didn’t like or really want.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: