The Closet

Agnes Elizabeth Franks Powell Peebles. 1902-1979. She is standing on the far right at my mother and father’s wedding. Grandma Peebles. In actuality, she was my great-grandmother.

Each year I spent time at Grandma Peebles’ house. It wasn’t a very big house. A rectangular shaped house with a
large front room and kitchen, a small hall with two bedrooms and a bath between them. The kitchen was kind of small with a wooden cutting board that pushed up into the cabinet. Grandma would pull that board out and I would sit on the stool and eat or “help” while she fixed our food. The pull-out was just the right height for me and I would beg to sit there if she made me a place at the table.

The best thing about going to Grandma’s house was the closet. You could enter the closet from the living room or from the back bedroom. It was a long skinny closet with bookshelves full of books, all manner of record albums, boxes of photos, old jewelry cases full of beads, clip-on earrings, watches, hair/hat pins, hats, coats, games and other items. By the time I was twelve, I had probably read every book on the shelves multiple times. Grandma would get out the photos and look at each one and tell me who was in each picture as well as a story about where they were when the photo was taken. We both spent countless hours going through the jewelry boxes and trying on the clip earrings and necklaces from as early as the 1920’s.

I loved rummaging around in the closet. There was always something new to me to find. Dress up clothes from eras gone by, pointy-toed shoes, yearbooks and old school books that had belonged to my mother with notes to and about her friends–always knowing that each item would elicit a story from Grandma.

We listened to music. Record albums full of songs like Blue Skies and Time After Time by Frank Sinatra, Bicycle Built For Two, songs by Elvis, Chuck Berry and Linda Ronstadt were stored in the closet. Music that would magically transform in my mind to beautifully clothed ladies dancing waltz and polkas.

She taught me to play dominoes and told me stories of my mom and aunts when they were kids. She let me read and lose myself in all kinds of books from mysteries, romance, adventure, the classics and many others. She would sit on the front porch and watch me while I played or ran down the road to the country store. We did silly things and laughed. It was a time of magic and freedom.

I remember when she died. It is the first funeral I remember attending. The cousins and I were stiff in our good clothes, we watched our parents and grandparents grieve without understanding what was going on. Ricky and I watched as our grandpa lifted her out of her coffin while crying uncontrollably. We were scared, awed by death and its power, sad without really know how to handle death and the emotions. Furtively we wiped our eyes. We wanted to offer comfort but didn’t know how.

1979 might have been the end of my visits and time spent with my grandmother, but the memories we forged will always be near.

9 thoughts on “The Closet

  1. This story really gets to me. I have a great relationship with both of my parents but the relationship i have with my grandma is special. She also doesn’t have a large home but it feels more comfortbale than any other home just because of her presence. I know that everyone dies eventually and its a hard concept to grasp. I know that one day my grandmother will pass away but the laughs and memories we share will live on forever.

    -Ben Marello

  2. I loved reading this one. This story, although not fictional, can make almost everyone think of a time in their lives that relate to this. The description of the closet is so clear, it made me think of a distinct episode of “Fixer Upper” that came on recently that had the same theme of closet. Clearly, I had a picture embedded in my mind of your great-grandmother’s closet from that point forward. The last sentence in short and to the point, but sums up the whole story in just that one sentence.

  3. Reading this post meant a lot to me. I have a great relationship with my grandparents and my biggest fear is to lose them. My grandparents do not have a lot but they make the most of it. I know that one day we all have to go , I just pray that when the day comes that I can still cherish and remember the memories just like you did.

  4. this story would have to be my favorite. my life was so similar to this. there is always a place in my heart from my great grandmother, growing up in the country that is one of the greatest gifts. having a grandmother that teach you so many awesome things. but losing her is one of the most horrible things in life. unlike the story i was able to understand what death was and losing her took a piece of me. it was like our whole family lost our heart and we’ve never been the same since.

  5. I very much enjoyed and related to this story. What a walk down memory lane. Priceless. The vividness unfolds as if this just happened and in my mind it did.It draws reality to the forefront of my mind and I don’t remember taking a breath for a lengthy amount of time. A very contagious piece leaves me asking myself of it’s validity in my life. Encouraging. Another glimpse of a life lesson. Written with such an honesty that is surrounded by comfort (family). It screams reality; and ushers in hope.

  6. I have a great relationship with my grandparents also and their house was my favorite place to be when I was a little girl. I love this story and how detailed the description of the closet is. I can see that you have a lot of good memories with her!

  7. This story made me cry!!!! My grandmother was a very important person in my life I believe the most important, she raised me and remember the moments and everything I learned with her made me miss her. Fortunately she was with me fore more than thirty years, I really liked the stories she told me, see her old pictures and she taught me to read and I believe I inherited her passion of knowing new places, we traveled together to so many places. She never left because even though she is not phisically there is no day that she does not remember her!! Your story is very similar to mine!!

  8. I never had a close relationship with my grandmother, but we visited my great grandmother a lot! I remember the adults would put us kids to bed so they could talk, I always requested to sleep in her room. She had so much make up, and so many creams and lotions and shoes….shoes galore. A little girls fantasy! I remember the smells of her lipsticks, creams and perfume (I didn’t like her perfumes) trying on her shoes walking around in the room pretending to be somebody. Haha. What great memories! Thanks for this story.

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