The Last Day at Grandma's House

tap shoestap shoes

None of us had ever thought that clearing out our Grandma's house was going to be an enjoyable experience. Outliving both her daughters had meant that, despite being cherished, respected and loved by her expanding legacy of grandchildren and great grandchildren right up to the end of her days, she wasn't really known by any soul left living.

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.


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March 4, 20130 found this helpful

Thank you so much for letting me relive memories of my family doing the same thing you wrote about in your post.

It brought many tears of 'reliving memories' to my eyes and I can't thank you enough for breaking this harden shell of a woman who is so busy with work, home, family etc. 24/7!

Paula Jo Carr in the Lower Western Mountains of NC

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March 4, 20130 found this helpful

You know, I don't care how many fancy named magazines have famous who ever as their latest story in their issue, the stories that still wake you up and remember are the ones which evoke the memories of your childhood. And grandmas. And good smells from the oven. And peeking into that drawer where grandma kept her best hankies, etc.


So thank you for your words. They were heart-felt.

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March 13, 20130 found this helpful

As my 70th birthday is quickly approaching, I can relate to this from the other direction. I can only hope that my children will divide up what I have accumulated over the years in the same peaceful and amicable way. I bet the grandmother written about had no idea what a pair of, probably long forgotten, tap shoes would do for one of her descendants. I never comment on anything but this posting really hit a nerve. Thank you

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June 4, 20130 found this helpful

I have a better idea...As a woman who is getting older and looking at what I thoughts are on the Now and How to clean up! We all accumulate "stuff" that no-one else should have to clean and tidy after we are gone. Start getting rid of your clutter now while your able.


Extra magazines you've enjoyed can go with you and stay at the Docs' office. (remove your address labels if its a subscription). I took in a huge bag of 50 odd magazines, thin booklets etc and the next month...not a one was left. I'm happy they were popular.

Get rid of kept plastic margarine containers and things like that into recycling. (why should someone clear your trash).

Patterns, fabric scraps, bits and pieces of crafting you no longer bother with... can be sold, given to schools, shelters, guilds etc. Anywhere but gathering dust in a box in a cupboard.

Make a few phone-calls and they will likely pick them up too. But make sure they do it during daylight hours and you keep the items at the door. Do not let strangers in if you are alone ever! It just isn't smart, nor safe!


We have some goodies in there too - but give them to who can use them best now and enjoying watching them light up with delight as they get to use an article we only enjoy, once in a while. Don't be selfish about holding onto a few nick-knacks etc. they can be just "dust collectors" as my Dad used to call them.

Declutter isn't just a buzzword, it's a necessity! By doing that now, we also get to enjoy ourselves more as we have to clean and tidy less. Win / Win.

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July 1, 20180 found this helpful

Beautifully written. Beautiful content.

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July 1, 20180 found this helpful

Beautifully written. Beautiful content.

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July 1, 20181 found this helpful

you are a gifted writer, i was enthralled with every word, said when it ended. thank you for sharing this, and bringing back memories of my beloved Grandma Harley, if only for a few minutes.



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July 1, 20180 found this helpful

You are a very talented writer and this essay is beautifully crafted! Thank you for the flashback/flashforward read!

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August 7, 20200 found this helpful

My two fav' grammas died while I was not close by. Neither were my "real" (hate that word) gramma's so their "real" kids took over. I found that one had a chest full of my coloring book pages, done no doubt by me when I was about 3 to 6 years old. I never got to see them as her other grandkids burned them. They hated that their father, my adopted daddy, loved me no matter how many of his "own" kids he had.
The other was the same. I was adopted into their family and jelousy drove them to clean out her apt almost before she was buried. But I was at least told that when they found her things, there was a bar of soap covered in netting material to look like a fish. Not being sentimental people, they never even took a photo of it for me before they tossed it.
So yes, this story was a bit hard to read but I am so glad I did.
I was loved by a man and his mom, and a gramma who became like a mom to me.
The smells of cooking, teaching me to crochet, letting me play in her jewelry box, buying me needles and yarn when I was trying to knit with pencils...all in my memories anytime I need them.
No amount of time can erase those wonderfull memories.

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