In January 2015, my grandmother had to leave her home of 70 years. She first came to the farmhouse in 1944 when she married my grandfather. She filled the space over the years with pictures, crafts, and her blue willow china. There were plates, vases, and pitchers—accumulated one at a time at yard sales, fairs, and trips to new places. They were birthday presents and mementos. They watched over the kitchen from perches above cabinets and mounts on the wall. In high school I helped her take them all down, clean off the dust, and return them. She told me where and who each piece came from, the stories of the cracks and repair jobs. Some of the pottery was mysterious to me: the eye-cups and the little lidded bowl that stored the shed hair from your brush so you could pin it under your hat. Last year we realized grandma couldn’t make it on her own, not even with family stopping by to help. She is in a nursing home in a different town now, surrounded by strangers apart from our visits. She mostly dreams. Her blue willow pottery is scattered, some with family, some sold. Some is in the trash—the broken things that Grandma carefully glued, and the pieces with mismatched lids that were good enough to her. My brother and I have boxes full of dishes waiting for when move into homes of our own. I keep these two cups close to remember her. She is 98 now, and likes to hear about her old things. It’s one way she provides for us, even when she can’t be there.
– Kate Webber