Ghostly Artifacts

September 1st, 2010 by Harrumpher Leave a reply »

wanda1Small things as place holders and then worse than useless mementos of the beloved dead require decisions. I finally have come to terms with the last of my mother’s Scottish shortbread.

In the new-to-us house as well as the previous one, small sets of artifacts were a comforting hidden altar. I buried my grandfather in the backyard gardens. That is, a set of a photo and trinkets related to him became a nexus. Knowing that symbols were there gave me a focus for thoughts that needed consideration.

He played the father role for me all summers, vacations and on the telephone in my school years. I still want to share the bad and good and puzzling with him…and do.

When the objects are rancid, it’s another matter. My mother’s splendid shortbreads — rich, not too sweet floret cookies — were a primal communication and display of affection. She shipped us her homemade treats before Christmas every year and the tin of shortbread always came with a hand-written label MICHAEL on the top.

Six years on from the last batch, I still have a few of the last batch. What to do with remnants of my mother’s effort?

I can’t pretend that they are actually part of her. Yet, she made them for me and I had decades in college and adulthood getting them every year. It seemed as important to her to show that affection as for me to enjoy it.

The buttery cookies have long gone bad, to the point that I don’t open the tin. They aren’t moldy, but they not inviting even as ritual food.

Yet, I don’t want to place them in the trash. There’s at least that much emotion remaining in the former food.

I’m setting a couple out today to see what the various wild visitors do with them. We have many kinds of birds, including crows that are grossly fond of roadkill, as well as the night shift of rabbits, raccoons and such.If they devour the shortbread, I’ll sacrifice a few at a time until they are gone.

Had you known Wanda (above in early middle age), you would also know she would appreciate the sharing decision. She was a child in the Great Depression. While her father’s full-time job, massive gardening and tailoring protected the family from the stereotypical deprivation, she grew up in the Eastern panhandle of West Virginia, where waste is a sin.

Perhaps our two and four-legged visitors will help me here.

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