Friday, October 12, 2012

Grandpa's Secret

A bare bulb hangs overhead.  At the bottom of the rickety stairs, I flip the switch and the feeble glow reveals the detritus of half a century jumbled on the concrete floor.  My sister squeezes past me.

"Wow.  When is the moving truck coming?"

"Three o'clock.  Where do we start?" I set down the box of trash bags.  Cindy moves a cardboard box, stirring up dust.  I sneeze twice.  The fresh laundry smell mixes with the mustiness of this forgotten basement.  I sneeze again, pulling a box close.

Cindy holds a familiar plaid shirt.  Grandpa's Christmas shirt.  "I can't remember a single Christmas when Grandpa didn't wear this.  And his awful moccasins, always smelling like Bengay."  I laugh, picturing Grandpa in his Santa hat, handing out chocolate coins.

My box is filled with odds and ends:  ratchet set, dented lamp shade, crusty tube of Colgate and a half-used box of Kleenex.  "Do you think Grandma simply dumped this down here last spring?  How much is trash and how much does she want to keep?"  I pull out the ratchet set and start a "donation" box.  "Here's a 'trash' box."

Cindy finishes sorting the clothes, keeping only the plaid shirt.  "Maybe Grandma wants this.  If not, I'll make a pillow out of it."  She laughs.  "Keep that in mind.  I can repurpose anything!"

"How about this?"  I ask, holding up Grandpa's ancient creel.  The wicker lid hangs lopsidedly, smelling of dead fish.

"It could be a planter with ivy spilling out," Cindy chuckles, rummaging through old paperbacks and back issues of Rod and Reel.

"The cats would destroy it."  I toss it in the trash and reach for two overflowing bags near the washer and dryer.

The stairs creak as Grandma totters down the steps.  "You girls need anything?  Sorry there's not more light down here."

"We're fine, Grandma.  We've set aside some of Grandpa's things you might want.  We'll bring them up in a bit."  I shove the trash bags filled with Christmas lights and plastic evergreens to the Goodwill pile.  "What's this?"

Nestled by the dryer hums a small refrigerator.

Grandma smiles.  "That was for Grandpa's pies.  His little secret ... but I knew."  She shakes her head.  "Chuck loved his pies."  She shuffles back upstairs.

Cindy stifles a laugh.  Across the cluttered basement I see the glow of her phone, she giggles ... Treasures abound in Grandpa's basement #secretpiefridge.


Linking up with The Red Dress Club.  This week's prompt:  400 words to tell the backstory to the hashtag #secretpiefridge.


  1. This was such a lovely little scene. Obviously dealing with sadness but finding happiness and humor despite it. Always the best way to deal with a family member passing on :)

  2. Well, I love pies, too, so of course Grandpa and I would have been fast friends. Beautiful writing!

  3. Charming. I've had a few moments like this, sifting through the scattered memories of someone else's life. Sometimes I understood the random souvenirs, sometimes I thought them absurd. Sometimes, I cried too much to make sense of anything. But a secret pie fridge? That I could totally see, and totally appreciate.

    Well crafted and bittersweet.

  4. awww I love this, it made me sad, and then smile. Finding the happy things in the sadness is a special trick, for sure.

  5. This is really good. Thank you for sharing.

  6. I love it when writing can make normal life captivating. Well done.

  7. Love Grampa's Christmas shirt. And the wife always knows about the treats stashed away ;)

    This had a lovely kind of ease to it.


Thanks for visiting! Your comments are warm fuzzies! (And con-crit is always welcome, too.)