Friday, Jan. 09, 2009 @ 2:13 pm
On Christmas morning, my father came to me: "There's something on the kitchen table that you might be interested in."
On the table was a box:
On the outside of the box was a hand-written note, Diabetes Association. My grandpa's scrawl. Masking taped to the box. The box was heavy, and within it heavy items rattled. I set it on its side, and opened the clasps. I touched the leather handle, somewhat dry, and slowly opened the box.
Someone's painting kit. Who touched this last, who's was this? My father spoke, "It was my mother's." Ruth. They gave me her name as a middle name. I hated it when I was younger. I imagined a dour, plump girl with greasy braids: Ruth. Ruth. My father's mother. She died when he was in highschool. When she died, they left Nanaimo and moved to North Vancouver. And Ruth painted.
She held this in her left hand, painted scenes of the west coast, of children. She did this all with my father playing in the yard outside, his brother scampering away towards the Indian Reservation.
"Grandpa is cleaning out the basement, and I saved this from the donation pile. I don't know whether you want it..." I cut him off. "I love it. I want it. Don't let him get rid of things like this."
This box is the only thing that I have of her, a woman that I think, perhaps, I was more alike than anyone else in my family.
The paint is mostly ruined, the chemicals exploding, eroding. Oil stains her handwritten notes. There's a coupon from a cereal box. Worn-in paintbrushes.
Ruth's box is now my box, and I will leave it just the way that she left it.