More family squabbling

Over the weekend, I went with my mother back to north central Missouri to go through more stuff in my grandmother’s house. (This time, no word of warning about gun-cleaning at the hotel. But someone had pulled the battery out and very carefully propped it on top of the smoke detector.)

On Saturday, they decided to split up the rest of the jewelry — grandma’s wedding rings and a dinner ring, a pair of diamond earrings, a necklace and a few other pieces that, monetarily, weren’t worth a lot. The three — my mother, her sister and her brother — drew numbers to see who would pick first. The order: Sherry, Terry, Mom. (For the record, her name is Barbara. I don’t know why my grandparents got on that rhyming thing for the other two.) If Sherry could have, she would have danced with joy at being No. 1; she’d complained several times that she’d had to pick last before.

So they went through the jewelry.

One of the odd moments of the day: Terry asked his sisters if they would give his wife, Cindy, a cameo ring that was among the jewelry. Cindy likes cameos, and often went to my grandmother’s to help her with things. It was a nice gesture. My mother had no problem with it; Sherry said no, but wouldn’t say why. (I should point out that this is a ring that has not been worn for years.) Finally Sherry said she wanted to give it to my sister, Monica.

What? First, this whole process has nothing to do with the grandkids, which has been made very clear. Second, Sherry was not worried about saving anything for my brother — why just Monica? I didn’t understand it. Mom didn’t understand it. Terry didn’t understand it. Sherry was not willing to share any insight. (I haven’t asked Monica about it.) Sherry finally agreed Cindy could have the ring, but wouldn’t actually give it to her.

On Sunday they actually made progress cleaning out some of the things in the house — but not much. Sherry went through the closets in Grandma’s room, Mom and I hit the basement, and Terry ran back and forth between the two. The basement is full of … stuff. There’s no better word. It’s dark, dirty, moldy and has the distinct basement smell.

There were three trunks in the basement. Two belonged to my grandfather’s relatives; the third was Grandma’s. There were mold-covered photos, letters, baby clothes, my grandfather’s Merchant Marine uniform, baseball cards and books. The photos and letters were boxed, bagged and put in my car. The goal is to de-mold, de-toxify and scan them all in before the kids split them, like I did with the last batch of family photos.

Two big finds that I know of so far: Among the baseball cards, all from 1929, is a Babe Ruth card. And very old love letters to my grandmother …