What I wanted was his bone handled,boar bristled shaving brush that sat very handsomely in an ivory porcelain mug, where no matter when I looked, there was always a wee sliver of soap left at the bottom. It made me think quietly to myself of the Israelite lamp that burned for eight nights without refilling. I believed in things like that because of him, imagined as a child that God kept the soap in the cup for him.
My step grandmother never thought to ask me if I wanted anything of his, but rather unceremoniously discarded everything into the trash or donated it to her church's bazaar.
She must have had a moment of humanity, because she went into the pantry and came out with his toothbrush,all that was left.
"I used it to clean the tile,but if you want it you can have it," she said.
I would have gladly taken it, but it held no memory for me; I never watched him brush his teeth like I watched him shave. I remember how he lathered up his cheeks and chin and then began distorting his face by moving his skin this way and that carefully shaving the soap and whiskers away. Then he'd slap on some Old Spice and bend down to give me chance to feel his smooth face.
"Better?" he'd ask me.
"Better," I'd tell him with a giggle.
Those special summer days when I was allowed to stay over at grandfather's we'd take afternoon walks in the park and stop on our way home at Schultz's Bakery for fresh bread for dinner. Later in the evening we'd sit on the back porch and he'd tell me stories that I'd heard before but never tired of hearing again, like my step grandmother did. In the late evening when I was in bed I could hear him winding his clock and saying prayers in German.
"Do you have his Bible?" I asked my step grandmother.
"You know...I do...but it's in German,you couldn't read it."
"May I have it?"
"I guess... you can have it, I was thinking of giving it to my neighbor, Mrs.Schuld's..she reads German..but I guess you can have it if you want."
She left the room and I looked around and there was nothing that reminded me of him, only the ghost of memories that I had brought along. She returned with a worn brown leather Bible whose gilded end pages bore the wear of his fingers. When I took it from her hands my fingers immediately sought those places,his fingers in mine.
"I'll take the toothbrush too," I said quickly.
As I left his house for the last time,toothbrush in hand, I fondled it in my fingers searching for that sweet spot where his fingers may have rested on that old tortoise colored handle,believing I would find it, and glad I had rescued one last bit of him from her.