Perhaps you recall that my sister the ex-mayor's wife and I have been sorting through Mom's personal effects since February. I think of our saga this summer as The Neverending Worry. I cringe at the thought of going back for another session because I seem to be persona non grata. I know Sis doesn't mean anything by it...but she always finds a way to directly or indirectly accuse me of
I had not even crossed the hardwood entryway before Sis accosted me. "HM! Did you take the folding table and chairs out of Mom's bedroom?"
"Well, it's gone. It was under the bed."
"Farmer H moved the bed and furniture to the #1 son's college house. He was told JUST THE BEDROOM FURNITURE. Nothing on the bed. Fold the quilt and put it on the stack of the other quilts, and set them aside on the sewing machine. I don't know where the folding table is."
"I wanted that! We play cards!"
"I know you did. When The Pony crawled under there and found it, you said you wanted it. I don't care. I don't want it. I didn't take it, and it's not at my house."
So on we went, touching and feeling every single kitchen item discovered like it was a grand archaeological artifact. I turned down my share of a tumbleweed of twist ties. And two fat rubber bands, the kind you find on a broccoli stalk, in a zip-lock bag. Same for a half-melted bar of Gulf Wax paraffin. We chanced upon some old bottle openers. The loop kind that you put on the metal cap and pried like a lever.
"Here. There's three of them. I'll never use them. You want them? One says Budweiser."
"Yeah. Farmer H collects beer memorabilia. I'll take them. No need to put them in the auction box."
Sis shoved them across the table (that I'm going to take, hopefully not scratching it in the process). We boxed up a couple of pressure cookers, some Anchor Hocking star cut glass candy dishes and serving plates. Stainless steel mixing bowls. A cast-iron griddle. A nut chopper.
"Oh, look! Another bottle opener." This one was the long kind with the pointy end, for stabbing a can open as well as popping off the cap of a bottle. "It says Falstaff."
"I'll take it. I KNOW Farmer H collects Falstaff specifically. I order him stuff off eBay for Christmas."
"Well. I only have one bottle opener. That plain one. You have two."
"You said you didn't want them! That's why I have two. I thought you threw that other one away with the handful of stuff from that drawer."
"No. I put it in my stuff. If you want this one, I'll have to have that Budweiser."
"Okay. He'll want Falstaff more." I dug down in the wooden-handled knives to find it. "Here." Let the record show that Sis and the ex-mayor have no collection of beer memorabilia that I am aware of. And are not so arthritic that they can't pop a top with their own fingers.
On we forged. Through a plethora of copper-bottom pans. "Look at this. Why would Mom have ONE pan without the rim, and a lid with a round handle instead of long handle like the others?"
"Oh! That's EXACTLY like my copper-bottom pans! I think she gave them to me when I moved out. She must have had a set, and gave me all but that one. I have a big tall one with two handles, a little bitty saucepan, and one just that size."
"Well, do you want it? I know you said you wanted some copper-bottom pans. I don't have room in my kitchen for any. Here. Here's a big pan. You can make soup in it. And three more saucepans. But if you don't want it, I'll take one of the saucepans."
"That's fine. I'll have three of that size now anyway. I don't need that one." Sis put it on the table. I put mine in a box behind me on a chair. We continued our excavation. The kitchen was complete. We moved to the dining room, but time ran out. After three and a half hours, we called it quits. Sis and The Pony hauled box upon box out to the cars, and left some auction materials in the living room for Farmer H to pick up later.
On the way home, I got a text from Sis. "HM! Did you possibly take that copper bottom pan that was sitting on the table? Not on purpose. I thought The Pony might have grabbed it by accident when he picked up your stuff. It was the one with the long handle on the lid, and you said I could have that one."
"No. The Pony says he didn't take it. I'll look when we unload."
"See message after that one."
"I know the pan you're talking about. As far as I know, it was still on the table. I didn't get a message after that one."
"The second one said to disregard the first one. I carried in my stuff and didn't have it. I went to pick up some lunch. I heard rattling, and turned around and saw the pan in Babe's car seat. Sorry!"
Yeah. I'm sure she didn't mean anything by it.