Living with intent, social engagement, learning, growing, giving
I vaguely remember visiting my farm grandparents in the late 1970s and finding that an elderly lady that I had never seen before was staying with them. She was not a relative and did not come from our area. To my young mind she seemed ancient with age spots on her papery skin, nobbly knuckles, old lady voice, hair and smell and excitingly she had a walking cane. Suddenly my grandparents seemed younger than I had previously thought, when compared with this ancient being.
I vaguely remember hearing that my grandmother cared for the old lady. I don’t recall why but it seemed that she was from a different class to us and I wonder if my grandmother was paid to care for her or if she simply hoped to inherit something from the old lady.
Later I remember visiting my grandparents again and finding lots of new treasures in the house and yard. The old lady had died and they were some of her belongings. Can you imagine my delight to discover a commode toilet? It was a high, straight backed wooden chair with a solid wooden box at the base from the seat to the floor. To my amazement, I could lift the seat and found an oval shaped toilet seat underneath. Presumably a bucket was kept in there when it was used as a commode. I was intrigued to imagine the kind of person that would sit on a commode and poo in the living room but I was forever disappointed to never see it used as anything other than an ordinary chair. My father called it the throne and for years afterwards I was confused when I heard about this King or that Queen sitting on a throne, imagining that it was a commode toilet.
Some other treasures that I remember appearing at that time were bone-handled butter knives and they continued to be my favourite butter knives whenever I visited. I don’t know what poor beast gave up it’s bones to make those knife handles or why that material was used but presumably it was cheaper than metal and it was the days before plastic. Discussion: I just read on this blog that the bone handles are not necessarily bone at all but a type of ‘bakelite’. Whereas this site shows photographs of knives like those in our family that do have bone handles.