Monday, August 30, 2010

"Hell's Bells, I'm Rich!"

When I was a kid I loved to dust.  But upon examining this as an adult, I realize that I actually just liked to snoop.  It was while dusting in my parents' bedroom that my sister and I discovered our stash of baby teeth that had supposedly been taken away by the Tooth Fairy.  They were in a plastic bag inside of a ceramic egg that was sitting on my Mom's dresser.  My sister, Bridget, was out of her mind to discover this forbidden information and was ready to proclaim to all the neighborhood kids that the Tooth Fairy was a fraud.  I'm pretty sure my Mom had to resort to bribery to silence her.

My Grandma lived just one street away from us, so I would also call her to ask if I could come over to dust.  She only ever let me dust in one of her spare bedrooms, which at the time I thought was awesome, but I now understand it was to prevent me from breaking anything important.  While I would dust in this room I would also peek into anything I could--the closet full of off-season clothing, the dresser drawers, the sewing basket, and of course, the treasure boxes. It was these treasure boxes that led me to the conclusion that my Grandma was rich...really rich.

One of these boxes was actually shaped like a wooden treasure chest, like the kind you see in pirate movies filled with gems and gold coins.  This box was lined with red velvet (another sure sign of wealth and opulence).  While assuming a pose of casual dusting, I would look into the hallway for any signs of my Grandma, and when I was sure the coast was clear, I would unlatch the chest and peek inside.  I was not disappointed.  Inside were all kinds of expensive looking trinkets.  And was that a ruby brooch and diamond cuff links?  It looked like it to me!

And that wasn't all!  On one of the dressers was a bronze hinged box with fancy flowery filigree.  Inside of it were equally astonishing treasures that only someone of royal status would have lying about.  At the time I never thought it odd that my Grandma would keep these priceless family heirlooms in a spare bedroom that no one hardly entered; I was just enthralled with the fact that my Grandma was so wealthy and I hadn't known it!

But, once I thought about it, it did seem to make sense.  Her house was full of pretty things...and there was the "good room."  She was the only person I knew who had a room that was too fancy to ever use.  I decided to broach the subject, and having not yet mastered the art of subtly, I got straight to the point.

"Grandma, are you rich?"

Her reply?

"Oh, hell's bells!  Yes!"

Hmmm...I knew I was right!  And, I never once doubted her.  My Grandma Theresa was the epitome of beauty, grace, and style.  The rival of any society lady.

Years later, when my Grandma passed away, I got that bronze hinged box with the flowers.  I couldn't wait to look inside because it had been so many years since I had peaked at the treasures within it.  I could hardly stand the anticipation as I pried open the lid...to see nothing of value at all.  The contents amounted to a broken watch, a costume jewelry brooch with a bent pin, and a jeweled tassel from a curtain, among other things.  I laughed to think that I had once imagined these castaways to be priceless.  But, really they were.  Priceless memories of my Grandma and some of the best snooping I ever did.

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