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Pure As the Driven Slush (Personal Journal)
October 29th, Two Thousand: My Grandmother's Glasses

Her small apartment was full of sons and daughters and in-laws and cousins, each fingering through the things of interest to them. Some of them bickered a little over this thing or that, most of them meaningless: pie pans and picture frames, furniture and sewing machines -- things which, for a small fee, one could get anywhere, and within a few uses, no one would know someone else had or had not used them before.

On her night table sat her glasses, which no one fought over or even paid notice to, and which were destined for the Goodwill; perhaps for someone else's face, who we'd never know.

My grandmother and I had little to no history at all, and the history we did have was stormy, fraught with conflicting feelings; many of anger, some of sadness, a few of blank apathy. When she'd died, I agreed to come down and help with the funeral, write the eulogy, support my mother. I did so reluctantly, and I didn't expect to be very upset. I wasn't. I played my usual role of the strong one, the one who holds it together when everyone else is fraying at the edges, though in this case, it wasn't because I was strong, it was because I wasn't sure what to feel at all.

On the last day before we left, after the wake and the funeral, after the dinners with the family, after the devil and the details, I saw those glasses, which no one cared about. I cried suddenly then, and bit it back in my throat because everyone had already had their tears and were done with them.

I wondered, picking them up in my hands, how much my grandmother had seen -- or not seen -- through those glasses. I knew there wasn't a single day she didn't use them; that they didn't rest gently atop her delicate skin and in front of her strange grey-green eyes. I wondered, if I took off my own and put hers on, if I might see things the way she did, or if there was, in fact, some flaw in them that might have brought about the flawed way she did see things from time to time.

The idea of tossing them aside made me tremble inexplicably.

I asked if I could take my grandmother's glasses, because no one else wanted them, tears barely held back behind my eyes, a lump in my throat. No one argued, but I am not sure that anyone understood, either.

They are still inside my purse. I am almost fearful at taking them out, wondering what they hold, wondering if through them I might see bigotry, violence, sadness, a vacant solace in religion when there was no solace elsewhere. I am perhaps more scared that what I might see is love and beauty; that I might see something which would make me deeply regret the opinion I had of my grandmother most of my life. I am less scared of a loss I know than I am of discovering I may have lost something which I did not know was there to be lost.

I feel odd at having what was perhaps the most personal artifact of my grandmothers, and I am not sure quite what to do with them. But they remind me that when all is said and done, and our last breath taken, we have no need of glasses; no need of anything with which to see more clearly than we already do. I suppose that having them comforts me, in some small way, that they make me think that her vision is now perhaps no longer in need of correction.



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