I have an intimate and unintentional relationship with my grandfather’s boxer briefs.
I must preface this story with the following comments. My paternal grandmother grew up during the Great Depression. It was a difficult period in Canada’s history but the people were resourceful and used objects eight different ways until the item disintegrated into dust. And then they made decorative wall hangings out of the dust.
My grandmother never lost this resourcefulness; she was often seen dumpster diving around the neighbourhood for useful items that people had carelessly discarded. She would then give the furniture new life by stripping and recovering it. I’ve always admired my Grandma’s remarkable ability to use items in every imaginable way. My concern for the environment and limiting the amount of material waste I produce comes from watching my grandmother create wonderful pieces from reclaimed furniture.
This was how I ended up staining an oak chest in my grandparent’s basement one summer. I had covered the cost of the stain and the chest but my grandmother had kindly offered to provide the rest of the materials which included masks, gloves and rags.
“Thanks Grandma for helping me.” I said as we worked the stain into the wood.
“Oh you’re welcome dear.” She replied kindly. Glancing over at my work my grandmother commented “You’re going to need to use a new rag that one has to be changed.”
Looking at the stain saturated cloth in my hand I hesitated “Grandma, I don’t want to use all of your rags.”
“Oh don’t worry dear, Grandpa’s old underwear has lots of uses.”
If I hadn’t been wearing a mask my grandmother would have seen my mouth drop open in horror and disbelief. I stared at my hand which would now always be the hand that had touched Grandpa’s underwear. No longer did I have a left and right hand, for years after this I would have my right hand and the Grandpa’s underwear hand. Writing was quite difficult in grade eight as I had previously been a lefty. Also I lost the “Best Summer Contest” on the first day back at school that year.