Grandma's grand-parenting and great grand-parenting skills were demonstrated by the good-natured mood in which our family completed their labours. There were smiles and an occasional teary eye when items she had kept down the years for purely sentimental value were rediscovered and remembered. Cards and calendars inscribed with shaky greetings and encrusted with glitter sat in the dresser alongside lumpy clay ornaments fashioned by clumsy childish hands. All were now held in the same hands that had fashioned them, now grown dextrous and strong.
So, as the day wore on, drawers, cupboards, and wardrobes were decanted into boxes marked with the names of family members who had gently laid claim to the items they now contained. There were no disagreements about anything with intrinsic value. The minor treasures of semi-precious jewels, her beloved Meissen shepherdess and an art deco cocktail watch (discovered lying amongst a tangle of paste baubles in a biscuit tin) were reassigned to those who would gain the most pleasure from them, by those who would, in turn, derive their own enjoyment from the knowledge of that pleasure.
At around one o'clock, a halt was called to the dusty proceedings and picnics were unpacked. Sitting together in the warm May breeze, the family shared the time and place for, as they were gradually realising, probably the last time. A quiet melancholy descended. The peace was broken by a gleeful cry from one of the upstairs windows, swiftly followed by the bursting open of the front door. One of the great-granddaughters flew across the front yard, a powder blue shoebox clasped to her chest.
The label on the end of the box read 'Capezio Theatrical and Historical Shoemakers New York City' and as the puzzled family gathered round, our excited teenager lifted the lid to reveal a pair of unworn patent leather tap shoes, size 5.
"It's a sign! It's a sign! Can I start those lessons now?" she asked her parents, more in hope than expectation. Times have been pretty tough financially for my sister and brother-in law so tap dancing lessons were definitely not a priority.
"Well, we couldn't afford the shoes, but I can just about pay for the lessons, so I guess so", replied my sister. This pronouncement was greeted with much joyful screaming from my niece
As the day drew to an end, the boxes were loaded up. After many hugs and kisses, we all drove off in our different directions; one of us a tap step closer to their dreams.