After my grandmother died, my mom and I went through her things. My grandfather, too grief-stricken at the time, could not face it. We began upstairs, going through the two bedrooms and the attic. Stacks of still-fragrant linens lay in an old hutch, and we divided up things that different relatives might want, and kept a few items for ourselves.
Downstairs was the hardest, especially the parlor where we had Christmas every year. There were French doors that opened from it into my grandparents’ bedroom, and we began going through her closet and bureau. I found her ancient silver pot of rouge and laughed, thinking of how Ba (our pet name for her) would carefully rub a tiny bit of it on her cheekbones before going out, which she seldom did. Then I began to wonder how old that pot of rouge might be.
I heard Mom open a drawer in the closet and then heard her laughing. I went to her and found her holding a pair of brand-new black lace underpants, with the tag still on. Well, first we laughed our heads off, then we cried. When we could finally control ourselves, we laughed again.
Ba was a practical woman, preferring to wear cotton dresses and skirts she made herself. She spent most of her time in her many flower gardens, in the kitchen and in her hobby room, or, we called it; the “Oh, dear!” room. She died with many hobbies left unfinished, and was always starting something new. Consequently, there was literally everything everywhere.
But all I could think of for the rest of that day was what in the world was Ba saving that brand-new pair of undies for? I’m sure that her thinking was as practical as always, ‘oh, I’ll save those for later; they’re too good for everyday wear.’
So, there they were, brand new unworn underpants, for a woman to whom death came much too soon. I’m sure she thought she would eventually wear them, but never did.
Isn’t that an alert to us all? What in the heck are we waiting for? Those sad underpants have been a reminder to me all my life to enjoy each day, live as fully as possible, and to NOT wait for special occasions to wear or use this/that/or the other thing that’s “too good” for every day. I even use the gorgeous cut-glass pickle dish Ba’s people brought to America from Galway, Ireland. It’s not in the least bit practical, but it’s beautiful, and I love it for its looks and its history.
So, lesson to us all: let’s not leave this earth leaving ‘sad underpants.’