Just Write {78}

March 25, 2013

We pulled things down from the shelves in the storage room downstairs, holding them out to Grandma, What’s this? Do you want this? Goodwill? Do you want to give it to someone in the family?

She answered over and over and then went upstairs for a while, to sit down and watch basketball.

Her name hit the top of the list of all who are waiting to live in apartments at a lovely place in a city nearby. Two of her sisters live there now.

My Grandma, she is too well to go to assisted living and ready to not have the whole house to herself anymore. It’s time to move away from the house.

We found a box of things Grandpa used to have at the lumber yard, back when it was his, years ago. The guys would come and hang out there. I remember sorting nails in little containers all in a row. When there was a fire and my grandpa was burned, I never looked at the place the same way again. It took so long to heal and it looked so painful.

The box was full of little jokes made with nails or pieces of wood. Some of them were puzzles to solve, a chain between two nails you had to find a way to unhook, that sort of thing–the kind that frustrate you and you just want to shake and shake them until they come loose. Then someone else comes along and twists the chain just a little this way and that and it lets go.

There was also a piece of wood with two tall nails in it. There was a cartoon bubble coming from one of the nails that said, “I don’t know! I heard a big bang, then I turned around and he was gone!” If you looked closely then, you could the head of a nail, pounded down in to the piece of wood.

Sitting on the shelf between boxes and coolers was a vintage fan that I fell in love with. Heavy and strong, metal, with a light blue base and an orange center where the blades met. My Grandma said I should have it, and then she told me that she thought my dad had brought it with him to Vietnam and “it made it all the way back.”

My dad said he was sure that was the one, and now it sits in my living room.


I feel like I won the lottery.

There is so much that my grandparents and my dad have been through that I don’t know about. My Grandma also handed a shoe box over to my dad, one filled with 90 letters from his time in ‘Nam. I know there are 90 because she told me she counted them. She counted them and she kept them. I said I was excited to read them, but I didn’t steal them away because my Dad said that he isn’t sure what they say, or if he wants to remember it.

It’s a lot like those brain-teaser puzzles, going through life’s things. You might have moments of wanting to just shake it all, over and over until it lets loose, or you unravel it with patience, and then what?


This is the 78th installment of Just Write, an exercise in free writing your ordinary and extraordinary moments. {Please see the details here.} I would love to read your freely written words so join me and link up below. You can add the url of your post at any time. Just be sure it’s a link to your Just Write post, not to your main page, and please don’t link to posts that are not freely written in the spirit of capturing moments–you know, don’t link to how-to lists or sponsored posts. Also, please link back to this post in your post so people know where to go if they’d like to join in.

Please take a moment to visit someone else who has linked up! It’s a really good way to meet new writers and get inspired by the meaning behind their moments. Word? Thank you!



Cynthia March 25, 2013 at 9:37 pm

The fan is amazing, and the story behind it is more so. What a wonderful piece of family history to have as part of your everyday life. I hope you use it often.

Baby by the Sea March 26, 2013 at 2:31 am

First, what an awesome fan. I have always wanted one like that. The stories that things hold can just keep me for a while. I mean, how awesome to string from nails and puzzles to the puzzling that would come out if all ninety letters were strewn on a table with time enough to pour over each consecutive word. Wow. I really liked this one..
Baby by the Sea recently posted..Just Write: Olive at Limekiln Lighthouse

Jennifer March 26, 2013 at 8:50 am

That fan is stunning and so special. So many memories you found. Thank you for sharing, Heather. I always love reading your words.
Jennifer recently posted..Spring Break Snow

anna see March 26, 2013 at 9:05 am

I love the images you use. Doing a lot of sifting and sorting and remembering in my own life right now, too.

Love the fan!
anna see recently posted..Fourteen

Mia March 26, 2013 at 9:37 am

Dear Heather
The fan looks like the stuff they used to make years ago. The time when they made appliances to last for a lifetime. Today, it seems that they make sure they never run out of business!
Mia recently posted..Spitting in The Face of God

Elizabeth W. Marshall March 26, 2013 at 12:16 pm

Heather, those fans are like pacifiers to my husband, he needs them, he loves them and he has to have multiples….they are his white-noise. This write is wonderful in so many ways. I cannot imagine sitting with the 90 letters and going back or the pain. What a treasure, what a gift. Love this, friend. HM HM GOOD. Glad you have the whirring fan to keep you cool and cozy.
Elizabeth W. Marshall recently posted..Learning To Live As A Child

Kathi March 27, 2013 at 2:06 am

Heather, I love, love this story. What a treasure.

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