Rediscover life daily

A century’s memories are in your vintage sweater, your apartment and your Grandma. Don’t let them go unnoticed.

My boyfriend ZacâÄôs grandmother is 92. Everyone calls her Grandma Lu. SheâÄôs kind of a spitfire, grouchy type, but her sense of humor is really very charming. Though she has AlzheimerâÄôs, it hasnâÄôt set in until the past couple of months. Zac thinks itâÄôs exciting; she gets to rediscover the world every five minutes. âÄúWhen did this soup get here? Why, thereâÄôs all this food, and I already ate. WhereâÄôd my drink go? I swear it was full a minute ago.âÄù SheâÄôll ask us in her sweet, screechy voice. Then sheâÄôll frown when we tell her, no, the soup has been here for 45 minutes, you havenâÄôt eaten since this morning, and you already drank your drink. I think sheâÄôs under the assumption that weâÄôre all lying to her, or that itâÄôs just an extremely cruel joke. Memory is an exhausting thing to think about. That pretty little mind of hers is bursting at its seams with files of experiences. Her mind wants to remember waltzes and streetcars and radio shows, but itâÄôs packed with World Wars and the Great Depression, the rise of technology, nine eras of music, suffrage and assassinations. Walking through the tight quarters of a vintage revival store called Hunt and Gather, we stare in awe at bright-colored rooms, gleaming with copper trinkets and fading elementary school maps of South America. There are chaise lounges with fringe and a set of lemon-yellow plastic backed chairs, a lamp draped with white lace with oval paintings of distant faces that someone once knew. Hats and pearls and dishes that were once used everyday. ItâÄôs great, itâÄôs vintage, and the whole place smells slightly musty, bringing back memories of my grandparentsâÄô basement. Fumbling through sepia-colored photos of families and houses with old bicycles, leaning on trees, it looks like some other world. Who were these people? Where did all of this antique furniture come from? Who wore that dress? Those gloves? And here we are; we pass right by, barely noticing the absence of the story that was once there. The past is a mystery to us, still in our 20s. We can tell that there is more to these things we now refer to as âÄúvintage.âÄù You can see that there was a little more care put into the construction of them, and some other life bustled around them. Even our apartments are full of stories and memories that we can barely imagine. As we peel back carpet that now covers perfectly beautiful hardwood floors, sand off the white paint that covers maple trim, and scrape off layer upon layer of paint, we come to find the intricate details of a life long ago. And as we carefully take the time to restore the buildings around us to their original period, we also find new uses for antiques. And though these things live on, we may never know their memories. Like the memories of Grandma Lu, they fade. And when she rediscovers her entire apartment each minute, or stares at the mystery of the twinkling lights outside, life rediscovers her. We all keep going, each day, a new day to get through, a new struggle and a new joy. And our family might be states away, or gone, but friends are just as good. And when the people we love are no longer around, we can instantly revive them with a story. The doctors say she has 10 more years in her. She grumbles when we remind her, scrunching her face and scoffing. âÄúTen more years!âÄù And we laugh, completely unaware of the things she has seen, or what it was like to sit around a radio, or to bathe a little girl in the sink for the first time. So what can we do but be in awe and maybe learn how to waltz? I think itâÄôs time we put on our dancing shoes. Ashley Goetz welcomes comments at [email protected].