The summer between my freshman and sophomore year I decided to spend a week with Grandmother just before school started. I had not had the chance for a few years and had missed spending some of our one on one time with each other.
As usual the first thing I did when I arrived was to crawl under the house where she stored all her canned goods. I hated it under there but had spent a lot of my youth under there putting away her canning jars when she had them filled with all the wonderful food she would use all winter.
I am not sure who went under there in the winter unless it was Grandfather, but it was always my job when I was there. Of course when I arrived she had many boxes of canned items that needed to be put away. There was an old antique ice box that Grandfather had fitted with shelves to store the jars in. It was a perfect place to put them, they were protected from the cold in the winter and in the summer they were kept cooler.
Sitting beside the old ice box was the item that I was after that would grace my bedroom while I was visiting. Grandmother would always have a fit and scold me about dragging it out but I would rescue it each time I was there. It was a picture of her when she was 16 and I had fallen in love with it the first time I saw it as a small child.
She was beautiful in the photo with the dark auburn hair and the blue gray eyes. The picture was 24 wide by 36 inches tall and had one of the most ornate wooden frames I have ever seen. It had lots of carving and cut outs all the way around the 5 inch wide frame and was antique gold.
I found 2 items for the first time that summer lying on the ground near the old icebox: they were scrolls of heavy cardboard. After handing the picture out to Grandmother, I quickly grabbed the scrolls and crawled out of the small opening in the foundation.
Grandmother wasn’t sure what the scrolls were either so it was like finding a present or treasure under the house. Once back in the house I put her picture in my room and joined her at the kitchen table to check out my find.
We carefully unrolled the first scroll. As we unrolled it completely and spread it out it began to fall into pieces. It looked like a giant puzzle lying on the table. It turned out to be Grandmother and Grandfather’s marriage certificate.
The certificate was probably 18X24 inches in size and was like a beautiful painting. On the top was a large mass of red and pink roses and below the flowers the dates of the marriage and who had performed the ceremony and where and the names of the bride and groom.
The whole document looked like it was eaten up by drops of acid here and there, and was very delicate. Over the next week I slowly put the puzzle back together and glued it onto a large piece of paper.
The other scroll was Grandmother’s parents wedding certificate. While not as fancy as Grandmother’s, it was the same size and in a little better shape. It had broken up a little so I also glued it back together.
Near the center there were three oval cut outs that were made for photos of the couple, but they had never put any in the spaces. A few years later I lost my head and decided to decoupage both of them on boards. But at the time it was the only way I could think of to protect them.
When I put them on the boards I put pictures of my Great-Grandparents and one of my Grandmother on her parent’s certificate. It turned out well and I have enjoyed them, but they are so large it is hard to find a place to hang them, so I just get to look at them sitting in the basement.
When the day arrived and mother came to take me home, I took the photo out of my bedroom to put it under the house where it had always stayed when I was not there. But as I was going through the kitchen with it, Grandmother told me that if I wanted that blasted thing I could have it, but I had to take it right then and get it out of her sight.
I turned on my heel and went straight to the car and put it in the trunk. I couldn’t believe that I had finally gotten it away from her. She also told me to take the marriage certificates with me if I wanted them.
I certainly wanted them because there was a little mystery with her parent’s certificate. Grandmother’s parent’s last names were the same on the certificate. This was something I wanted to try and unravel.
I was really surprised that she offered the photo to me, but I think Grandmother’s intuition was working and she knew she needed to get it out of the house if I was going to be allowed to have it.
You see, that November we lost the Pearl and I am convinced that she knew her time was almost over and that is why she wanted me to take the certificates and the photo with me when I returned home.
The name mystery of my Grandmother’s parents was finally answered after some research. My Great Grandmother was married to her first love and he died when he was really young. Then she fell in love with his younger brother and they were married.
So Great Grand mother’s last name and Great Grandfather’s last name were the same on the certificate. Even Grandmother’s intuition couldn’t answer that mystery for me. To contact Sandy: [email protected].