by Taylor Roseweeds
A glass-topped tray in a carved wooden frame affixed with two brass handles hangs on the wall by my bed, five blue swallows hand-painted on its surface. It’s the type of tray you might bring to a sick person in bed, but I’ve chosen to hang it on the wall exactly as it hung in my grandparents’ bedroom until I inherited it in 2016. I spent portions of each summer and many Christmases with them on their apple orchard—a welcome break from a less idyllic daily life. Despite the availability of a spare bedroom, my sister and I almost always slept in the living room on two matching couches.
When we were small, we’d wake up before anyone else and get in our grandparents’ tall, soft bed. I would choose my grandpa’s side and he would check that my feet were tucked in, muttering something about Jack Frost coming to get my feet. In a dream—or a waking imagining seeded by this idea of Jack Frost—I sometimes saw a creepy man at the foot of the bed, emerging from the closet. So, while my grandparents tried to get a few more minutes rest, I would turn my gaze away from the closet and focus instead on the wall where the bird tray hung underneath an extremely 1970’s print featuring sunflowers in a vase. In calligraphy, it read “Today is the first day of the rest of your life.” I’d watch the birds fly and take in the pleasant philosophical depth of that simple statement, drifting back to sleep.
When my grandma—Dee Loris—died in 2016, preceded by her husband seven years earlier, she left a houseful of stuff. An individual binder-style scrapbook album of snapshots for each year from 1958 to 2015 as well as additional themed books for vacations, older photos, or individual people. Kitchen cupboards crammed with sets of dishes, papered inside with recipes and diet tips cut out from Woman’s Day and Redbook. Basement rooms with closets still bearing treasure—Gunne Sax dresses, washed-soft vintage tees, and bell bottom jeans so wide my aunts said they’d have to stop walking on windy days when their pants transformed into sails.