Saturday, April 16, 2011

Where's the Beans?

Einstein said the definition of insanity was repeating the same thing again and again... and expecting different results.  Maybe that explains why we have told my grandmother more than once that everything is gone from her house - sold/shared/donated -  and the house itself is under contract to be sold... yet she continues to ask where certain things are.  This is the same person who said as we packed the things to take to the Assisted Living Facility... "Just stick a match to the rest of it!"

So one afternoon last week, Mam-ma left a message on our answering machine... "It's Mam-ma... I was a wonderin' what y'all did with the stuff in the drawer of that cabinet out on the back porch."  Click.  That was it.  I called her back, but she was out of her apartment, so I left my own message.  "I am not sure what you are wanting from the drawer, but everything is gone.  There is nothing left in your house, and it should be sold in the next couple of weeks."

That evening, Mam-ma called again.  "Well," she said, "I was a lookin' for them bean seeds that were out in that drawer.  What did y'all do with 'em?"  I told her I had no clue... they did not come home with me. Now, I vaguely remembered my mom's husband, Lee, coming into the kitchen with an envelope or jar of beans and asking me about them... and I'm pretty sure I told him that there was no telling how old they were - and to toss them!  Mam-ma continued.  "Well, who got the things in the freezer?"  "We divvied them up amongst us," I told her. 

"Well, there was another jar of bean seed in the freezer.  I've called my friends Leon and Wanda - they give me that seed, but they don't have any more.  Their daughter Lesa drove to Clinton last week and got some for them... but I'm not a goin' to Clinton."  Her voice trailed off pitifully.  I told her I was not going to Clinton, either.  Clinton is a 45 minute drive across the lake from our community.  I told Mam-ma I was sorry, but the bean seed was gone... like everything else.  "Remember," I told her, "you picked out everything you wanted to take and keep, and we dispersed the rest.  I didn't know you would want bean seed." 

It turns out that the maintenance man at the ALF is helping Mam-ma and some of the residents make a garden... and Mam-ma apparently at least thinks she is "large and in charge."  She told "that girl" (I think she means the administrator), that they needed to plant pole beans, and this person said if she had some seed, James (the maintenance man) would plant them.  So Mam-ma was on a mission to find some bean seeds.  And apparently the ones she got from Leon were akin to gold.

When I related this story to my mom, she said, "I know what she is talking about.  Leon brought her an envelope of bean seed one Sunday, and he handed them to her at Sunday-school, and she quickly locked them inside her purse like they were gold coins!"  Of course, we found several jars and envelopes of seeds - some marked, some not - and we had no clue what some of them were - or how old they were - or even if they would grow anything.  So I am sure many packets were tossed in the garbage - not out of malice, but because we had no idea what else to do with them.

So the following day, my mother e-mailed me and said she had related this story to her husband, Lee, over lunch.  Lee stopped eating and said, "I have some seeds... if I can remember where I put them.  I'm not sure whether they came from Polly's or my brother's."  Lee's brother died a month ago in California, and he and my mom spent the previous month parked in his driveway in their RV... helping with the care of Lee's brother and the subsequent cleaning of his house when he passed.

Mom said she went to walk her dog, and when she returned, Lee had found the seed and was on his way to Southridge to give them to Mam-ma Polly.  Mom said, "I saw the envelopes on the kitchen table - and they were labeled in what was clearly Mam-ma's handwriting.  And I recognized one envelope as the one that Leon had given her at church that Sunday - it said "rattlesnake beans."  I remembered then... Lee had come into the kitchen and asked me about "rattlesnake beans!"  I told him I'd never heard of them... no telling how old they were or where Mam-ma got them... and to just toss them.  He told Mom... "I don't always listen well!"

So now Lee is the "Golden Boy" who saved the bean seed.  However, he will also be the one Mam-ma asks, "Whatever happened to such-and-such?"  Surely if he saved the bean seed, he must have saved other things!

As a footnote to this saga... yesterday, I went to an estate auction. As I was leaving, I saw Leon and Wanda approaching... and as I neared my car, I saw their daughter, Lesa.  I said, "Oh, I have a funny story to tell you!"  I began relating about the bean seed, and she said, "Yes, I know... I've got to dig through the freezer this afternoon and see if I can find another packet of seed for Polly."  I stopped her... ", no, no!  You don't need to do that... Lee had saved the seed, and he's already delivered it!"  Lesa was thrilled.  And I was so happy at the Divine Intervention that caused us to meet, because I rarely see my childhood friend.  It had to be a "God thing!"

So we laughed about our parents/grandparents and caring for them, wiped our brows with relief that all is well with the prized bean seeds, and went our separate ways.  I told Lesa, I pity the people at Southridge who are planting that garden, because they will never "garden" to suit my grandmother.  If you've read this blog for any length of time, you know how she is about plants, flowers, and gardening.  James handles Mam-ma pretty well... he's already somewhat "gotten her number".  But when it comes to gardening, things are on a whole other level.  I hope he doesn't "rurn" it... but more than that, I hope Mam-ma doesn't cuss at him!  It may be a long, hot summer!


Mark said...

Mam-ma and the beanstalk. Can't wait to hear that story!

Glad the mystery was solved. I'm surprised that you wanted to be anywhere near an estate sale after working so hard to get rid of your Mam-ma's things. I guess you kind of dabble in that sort of thing, don't you?

Debbie Robus said...

Mark, you are right... it did feel weird to be at an estate auction. I kept thinking... we sold some of these a couple of weeks ago! But I do enjoy rescuing vintage pieces and giving them a new life via sales at a local antique store and online at my Etsy store (

Having said this, I realize more each day that it's just "stuff" - and we're drowning in it! Makes me want to come home and clean a closet! Nah... not really... but I do think about it!

As for the beans, my friend said that seed is prolific - she put away 236 quarts of them summer before last! Poor, poor Southridge! *lol*