How My Grandma Tried to Reclaim the Washer I Bought at Her Sale

Hidden somewhere in the sheets and pillowcases we purchased at my grandmother’s sale, a note from her:

Kind friend – before you wash these pillow cases, please soak them in cold water to which you have added 2 or 3 tablespoons of table salt for a few hours or the color will all run together. You will be glad you did. Thank you.

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On Labor Day our extended family got together, and grandma was there. She can barely walk anymore, although she did manage to get up out of her wheeled chair/walker and take a few unsteady steps toward the dessert table. Everyone protested (the stroke has limited her ability to swallow), but later I heard that one of my aunts helped her break up a rice crispy treat into tiny pieces.

My dad wheeled her over next to me and we chatted for a bit. And by chatted, I mean that I shouted, and she whispered. Her voice misfires, doesn’t have much behind it anymore, like a car running a few cylinders short.

“So, are you enjoying your new dryer?” she whispered.

“We actually bought your washer,” I said, leaning so close to her that I could see all 91 years in her skin, like the rings in a tree. “My sister bought your dryer.”

“Oh,” she said, nodding and nodding and nodding, until I thought she forgot what we were talking about, but then she looked at me and smiled. “How much did you pay for it?”

“For the washer?”

She nodded again.

“$10. Can you believe that?”

Her eyes popped open.

“$10! You owe me some money!”

* * * * *

It was a rainy day. Eventually we ended up in the gym, playing volleyball. Those who weren’t playing sat around the edges talking, telling stories, and making fun of those who were playing. At one point in between games I scanned the crowd and saw grandma.

She had fallen asleep in her chair, her head bent far to the side. She had a small blanket on her lap. Around her, her children and grandchildren and great-grandchildren played and laughed and experienced life together.

I hope hers was a peaceful sleep.

* * * * *

Similar posts:
Watching Someone’s Life Get Sold Out From Under Them
Whatever Hurts Us Makes Us Stronger – Thoughts On My Grandmother’s Stroke

6 Replies to “How My Grandma Tried to Reclaim the Washer I Bought at Her Sale”

  1. Shawn,

    I love reading these stories, especially about your grandma. This one really touched my heart this morning. I got up early today, before Jer and the children and worked in the garage on my grandmothers old hutch that she recieved as an anniversary gift from my grandfather. As I worked on it I thought about her and what she may have used it for, the excitment that she may have felt when she was surprised with it, and maybe even the sacrifice it cost the family for him to purchase it (they had 4 boys and 1 girl, just like us). When she passed she gave this piece of furniture to my mother, who gave it to my sister, who gave it to me. Jerre and I sanded it down, primed it, painted, disressed it a bit, sprayed it with a varnish of some sort and bought new hardware for it. It is beautiful. I am sure that everyone will want it back now! I wondered as I read your story if maybe you or Maile would think about your grandmother as you do your laundry. We bought a box of canning jars from Jerre’s grandmothers auction and I know that my pickles in those jars will taste so much better then in my own!!! Enjoy your $10 washer, and all the priceless memories that came with it!

  2. Catching up on old posts… Love the story. Caleb’s grandmother is 96 and suffered a stroke back in the early 90’s. She doesn’t remember my name, even after Caleb and I got married I’m THAT girl or his wife. She insists on doing laundry that is 2 flights of stairs for her to carry. She only likes to eat sweets. She cracks me up by the things she says. I’ll tell her that I like her sweater and she’ll respond “this old thing” which I kick back to her that it’s not as old as you grandma. She’s stubborn, but has the best one liners. We were at a home based business party once and she was asked what she would do with an extra $400 and she said “put it towards my burial” We didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. (This was 4 years ago)

    Today is a special day as it’s my grandmother, Nanny’s birthday, Sept 14. Mine was yesterday and because they are so close we’ve always celebrated together. In October, it’ll be 10 years since I lost her to cancer, and I miss her so. I could tell her everything and anything. She was sweet, caring, loving and giving of herself.

    Thanks for letting me share about my grandmas today.

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