When I was a little girl, I used to spend a lot of time playing over at my Nana's house. We always called my mom's parents, Nana and Papa, and my dad's parents, Grandma and Grandpa. Grandma and Grandpa lived up in Utah, so it wasn't very often that we got to see them...but Nana and Papa lived right down the street, and as a kid I viewed their home as a wonderland.
Papa was a rancher, so their property was home to any cattle he planned to breed, brand, or sell (the rest of the herd was kept at the actual ranch), plus all of his roping horses, his blue-heeler cattle dog named Jake, and more wild cats (with baby kittens hiding in the hay-stacks) than my sister and I could ever hope for.
As if that weren't enough, Nana was an artist...a crafter...and a collector. She had an entire storage room dedicated to her crafting supplies, a huge collection of paint brushes, and countless other items (some treasure, some trash) to keep us kids entertained.
One of Nana's collections I tended to play with a lot was her set of skeleton keys. In the world of my imagination, those keys could unlock any door, save any princess, or lock up any terrifying dragon that entered the kingdom.
Now, those keys are in my home...and I look at them every single day...
In the summer of 2001, my Nana passed away from cancer. I was a Junior in high school, and since my family lived right down the street from their home, we were there every day from the diagnosis to the end. It seemed like forever, but it actually was only around five weeks from the time she was officially diagnosed with cancer to the time she passed away.
I was able to say my goodbyes, but I'll also never forget her last moments with her family. Watching her going through all of that pain, struggling to breathe, struggling to swallow, and barely able to speak.
Every now-and then I'd catch a glimpse of her wincing in pain, then smiling so that nobody would worry for her. She never complained. She always smiled.
I'll never forget the family crowding around her bed. Holding her hand. Trying to find ways to laugh at joyful memories from the past. Sharing with one another what we believed was to come. Our Nana would be in Heaven, right there with the angels, and Nana would joke that her voice wouldn't be good enough to sing in the choir of the Heavenly Hosts.
It was a precious time...it was a dreadful time...but then it was over, and we were all left with only memories and tokens of the wonderful woman who had touched our lives.
I was happy to be given permission by the family to keep Nana's skeleton keys as my own. They've traveled with me as I've moved from one apartment to the next, then ultimately here to my happy home.
A while back, I found this soap-dish at Savers for $.50. I thought it would be great if I repainted it then used it to hold jewelry, or other small items. Then I got the idea to use it to hold some of the key collection.
I couldn't bare the idea of using the entire collection here, so I split it in half and painted some of the keys white, and painted the soap-dish gray. The end result?? A modern take on an old-fashioned piece:
The keys sit on my coffee table--right there in the center of my home. I see them every day. I will keep them forever, out on display. As for the rest of the keys? I plan to frame them and hang them in a collage. I want them all where I can see them, and where others can see them too.
They remind me of her goodness, and I aspire to be as kind-hearted as the woman she was. She left me with her blood in my veins, and her gift for seeing the world through the eyes of creativity. She left me with her optimism for life. But most importantly, she left me with her love...and I can only hope that I left her with mine too.
Tell me, what is your favorite memory with your grandma? Do you have any tokens that you keep to remember her by? What are they, and what makes them sentimental to you? Where do you keep them in your home, and how have you made them your own? Share your stories, I'd love to hear!