These last few weeks, my cousin Bree and I have been sorting through my Grandma Peachy's belongings. Don't worry: Peachy's not dead, just downsizing.
Peachy's a pistol. Here's a picture of her as a new bride, looking as soft and sweet as cotton candy. That's her mother-in-law, my Granny Mabel, on the porch swing, scowling like she'd been gnawing on a lemon rind. I know she gave Peachy heck every chance she got.
When my mama was six and Aunt Jenny was eight, Grandpa Clem tried (and failed) to rob a bank and got sent to the federal pen. Peachy managed to run the ranch on her own, wrangling the drifters who passed for ranch hands and raising two wayward little girls. She learned to shoot and spit and smoke a pipe, and she could do a job of work as well as any man. Most days she wore denims and boots, but when she got dolled up she could have given Jane Russell a run for her money.
Some of my best memories are of summers and long weekends at Peachy's ranch. The breathy sigh of coffee in the percolator beneath the frantic sizzle of pork sausage and sunny-up eggs, the chocolate cherry scent of Grandma's pipe tobacco mingling with the bright green of freshly scythed grass, her smoky laugh carried through the window screens on the cool night breeze. When Aunt Jenny was hopping from no-account man to no-account man and my own mama couldn’t swim her way out of a gin bottle, Peachy played mama and daddy both to me and Bree.
After more than fifty years of managing her ranch, Peachy's decided she’s tired of carrying that burden on her slim, strong shoulders. She's moved into a lovely assisted living facility called Tarleton Ranch. She's got her own studio apartment, a slew of old biddies to boss around, and a little plot where she can grow thornless blackberry canes. Her only complaint? They won’t let her smoke, so she has to sneak out behind the kitchen with the high school boys who wash the dishes. Last I heard, she'd won nearly twenty bucks off them playing blackjack.
While Peachy's taking the busboys for all their pocket money, Bree and I are sorting through all the stuff that wouldn't fit in her cute new apartment: half-finished craft projects, a lifetime of letters and postcards, boxes filled with twist ties and rubber bands . . . you get the idea. The most interesting, though, is a whole garbage bag filled with romance novels. Not sweet little romances, but full-on old-fashioned bodice rippers. I never would have pegged Peachy for a romance reader. Not ever.
It got me thinking: If folks had to go through my closets right now, what would they find? What would it say about me?
How about you? What sort of stuff do you have lurking beneath your beds and in your attics? Anything that would surprise your kith and kin?
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