Martha’s Purse

Many of you have heard the phrase “like a ton of rocks”.  Well, for my grandmother’s purse, this actually rang true.  I am pretty sure she carried rocks in her purse.

As a young child, few things brought the same amount of joy as heading over to my grandparents’ house.  I adored my grandfather and my grandmother was amazing, in a completely different way.

Standing at, maybe, five foot, she was the very picture of “old school” grandmothers.  Always cooking.  Always cleaning.  Always crocheting.  An almost perfectly round figure with an almost perfectly round face.  A face that almost always had a smile on it.  She was a true grandmother.  Norman Rockwell would have seen his paintings come to life in their house.  She was the epitome of what grandmothers used to be.  I think that she was among the last of that “breed”.  **to touch back on the “almost always had a smile”, she could get angry, and when she did, I swear she was over seven feet tall**

The purse in reference was usually a black, shiny vinyl bag that she would wear on her forearm.  Though she always had it, she also always managed to leave it in the “other room”.  I was generally called upon to bring it in to her.  This was the first purse I carried.

As a small child, I remember the weight of this purse.  A ton of rocks.  I swear!  A ton of rocks!  Many times I would go to pick it up and it would almost topple me over it, trying to pick it up off the floor or bed.  Being little, it was easier for me to carry it like a shoulder bag (and I was small enough that it worked as such).  I would carry her purse like this until I got close to the room where everyone was gathered.  At that point I would move it down, carry it with my hands and have a very disgusted look on my face that reflected a “how dare you ask ME to carry this” position.

For years I was the designated purse fetcher.  I guess I was good at it, or my brother refused to get it, or I was trusted to never go through it.  Anyway, I was always called upon to go fetch grandma’s pocketbook…..a phrase that always made me scratch my head in wonderment.

What was in this purse?  Well, I don’t truly know.  I really never did go through it.  But what I DO know about it was that it held just about anything someone could need.  It held her handkerchief.  It held gum, mints, change for the penny and dime machines in the drugstore lobby (you know, the ones with horribly stale knock-off versions of Chiklets gum).  Her wallet was stuffed to the point of almost never closing, yet she never had much cash.  It was, instead, full of receipts, notes, newspaper clippings and little tidbits of drawings that her grandchildren may have given to her.  That wallet, I believe, contained everything that she held dear.  The purse may also have held these same importances.

To this day, I do not know what was in that purse to make it so heavy.  I never peeked, even after her death.  It felt wrong.  I know that my mother and aunt went through her things, as all children must upon the passing of a parent, but I have never asked to know what was inside.  Suffice it to say, if it were possible to carry around a little piece of heaven, I’m sure she had it, nestled in the lower corner of her shiny, black vinyl purse.

As I look at my own choice of bag, they are almost always black.  They are usually small, with the exception of a large shoulder bag (which I love).  But no matter what purse I am carrying, I always seem to leave it in “the other room”.

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About Jennifer

She grew up in an Indiana town Had a good-lookin' mama who never was around But she grew up tall and she grew up right With them Indiana boys on them Indiana nights Well, there are partial truths above. Being from Indiana, I did grow up in an Indiana town. I did not have a good lookin mama, but she was always around.'I did not grow up tall, but I suppose I grew up right. I spent lots of time with Indiana boys on Indiana nights. It's because I was one. Still am in some ways. Certainly not in others. My transitional journey has begun. Goodbye to my male self and hello to this wonderfully feminine world in which I was meant to live. At the age of 45, I am beginning my true journey to self and home.
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One Response to Martha’s Purse

  1. karenmcl says:

    Lovely connection with your grandmother! Amazing, isn’t it, the long, long reach of love.

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