Saturday, June 26, 2010

Magpie tale # 20

Willow, at hosts a weekly writing prompt.

using the below photo write a vignette or poem

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.


  1. Wow this is so sad. I never knew my Mother's father. I always enjoyed all the stories of him. How lucky this little one was to know hers.

  2. I so connected with this one, Suz. Unfortunately, my step-grandmother is just as sentimental as yours!

  3. What a touching little story.
    It made me think back to when I was a little girl. Many times I'd sit in the bathroom watching my dad shave. He even used Old Spice. :-) Thanks for retrieving that memory for me.

  4. Beautifully written...I remember wanting to be closer to my grandfather but only seeing him once a year and then competing with family for his time...I did get his Norwegian.

  5. This is a wonderful and moving story. Awesome Magpie!! :-)

  6. A very touching story Suz. I do not a thing that belonged to any of my Grandparents, but then I have a zillion relatives that got there first. One thing I DO have, are lots of memories. Old Spice was what my Daddy used, a wonderful scent and memory., thanks for opening that for me. I am so happy you now have your Grandpas Bible and can trace the tracks of his fingers. What a sweet treasure.
    BlessYourHeartSuz, you have a heart of gold

  7. That is such a touching story. I loved watching my Dad shave, and he would turn the razor over to the blunt side, put shaving foam on my cheeks and let me shave.

    Then he too would splash on the Old Spice.

  8. oh, suz-this was lovely!! the poignant memories of such special times that were shared. i had thought to myself that i don't know if i could have held my tongue with the harsh step grandmother! this magpie brought back such tender moments with my own grandfather and how very much i still miss him, many years later. you have written an amazing piece, my friend!

  9. a wonderful magpie...memories found in the places his fingers used to be...and that they had to be sad.

  10. A lovely story about memories and seeking to rescue them through relics and words, very powerful.

  11. Dear Suz: This story is constructed with much care and consideration. The final realization of how important a simple toothbrush can become after the Bible shed light on the important aspects of life. Remembering how his fingers had touched this item, the "sweet spot" made the want for the shaving brush and cup much less important. After considering things, the important values in life; the worn toothbrush left the spiritual aura of the grandfather's once physical and powerful presense. Love this!

  12. Dear Suz,

    Thank you for your lovely encouragement. I love this Magpie on many levels, first and foremost because I stayed with my grandparents for two years and Grandpa was such a strong character and influence. I kept his Quran, Bible and Tohrah in addition to his manual typewriter and book collection.

    Your tender story made my recollection even more vivid today.

  13. Plus, your blog featured my favorite fairytale today.

    I will try to contribute.

  14. For a few short minutes I was back at my Grandmothers house, watching Grandpa shave.Everyone thought he was a gruff old curmudgeon, I thought he was wonderful,Old Spice and all:)
    Thank you for rekindling a fond memory.

  15. A sweet and touching tale. Those things mean so much!

  16. You captured the attraction we have to objects that evoke memories for us. Sweet story. I enjoyed it.

  17. Heart warming reminder that sometimes the simple things in life are the most important.

  18. Lovely story. It's interesting what stokes our memories.

  19. Wow, why the heck did he marry her? loved this story, you really did a great job writing about the grandpa. even though he was dead I totally felt his presence in the story. really good magpie!

  20. Maybe I am reading too much into it, (because no one else seems to have noticed!) The memories swirl softly until the last "glad I had rescued one last bit of him from her"! A hint that the public profile was not quite the same behind closed doors? A most interesting narrative!


If you have landed in my tree..give me a chirp,fluff your feathers...drop... me a comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...