Broomstick days

So it happened that whenever my sister or I spoke with our grandmother and laid out the litany of the day’s happenings: carpools, soccer games, brownies for the school’s bake sale, science projects, she would say, “Well why don’t you shove a broomstick up your tuches and sweep the floor while you’re at it?” It reads a lot worse than the way she said it. Words on the screen don’t capture the irony in her voice, or our appalled intakes of air as we grinned at her colorful housekeeping advice.

Ever since, for my sister Amy and me, a broomstick day has been our private shorthand for the kind of day when we wake up, hit the ground running and don’t look back till bedtime. We’re coming up on the 11th anniversary of our grandmother’s death and I still miss those phone calls, am still at a loss sometimes when I realize that her voice resonates now only in memory. The personification of a balebost (Yiddish for a homemaker beyond compare), Estelle was known throughout Birmingham Alabama and beyond for her homemaking skills. Carpools and bake sales are a thing of the past, and while the days can sometimes get broomstick busy, they’ll never again leave  me with a full calendar and dusty floors.

I was playing with my bead stash the other day, thinking of her as I bent wire and tried out endless combinations of beads. Before I knew it I had this little broom to show for all that ruminating and reminiscing. Brooms are woven through with all kinds of meaning: witches, wedding rituals (jumping the broom, anyone?), making a clean sweep of things, Quidditch.

I’ve hung this little bejeweled broom nearby as a reminder to slow down and take joy in the dailiness of life, to remember to be on the lookout for magic in the everyday.  And for my sister and me, the mention of a broomstick is forever the magical incantation that brings our grandmother back to us: ribald and wry as ever.

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14 thoughts on “Broomstick days

  1. Linda Anger

    Absolutely LOVE this, Debra, and the bead “broom” is priceless – I want to make one!

    Just last night I was copying the Civil War records of my great-great-grandfather, to give to my son. We never knew him, of course, but reading through his records and seeing the photo of him in his Union Army uniform (and the awesome sword- he was cavalry) creates a connection.

    Perhaps I should make a broom for him.

    – Linda

    1. Debra

      Glad you liked it, Linda. Boy you are up early surfing blogs, I thank you!
      How amazing to have those war records to pass down. Yes, make a broom!
      (Maybe I should take orders!)

  2. Amy Trager

    Just love, love, love this! I can still hear Grandma saying that to me. Oy was she funny and on target at the same time. I too will be placing the “broomstick” that you made me in a more prominent place as a reminder to slow down and stay in the day. Love, your “broomstick” up the tuches sister!

    1. Debra

      OH Yes, Amy, can’t you just. When I signed in, there was a blog
      about a woman named …… Estelle! Somehow she knows!

  3. cindylaferle

    Add my shouts of approval and cheers for this one too! Love it, love the broom, and I will never look at a broom the same way, ever again. Through your essay here, your awesome grandmother is still reminding us all that we need to slow down, that we don’t have to DO so much all at once. The next generation could use her wry wisdom too 🙂

    1. Debra

      Thank you, Cindy. So glad you enjoyed the post. It was kind of magical how
      it all came together, playing with the wire, slipping on pretty beads. As if
      the very symbol for such busyness was literally slowing me down and forcing
      me to live in the moment of creation.

  4. donna

    too funny…My aunt always said why dont you put a broom up your butt and sweep while your walking lol lol lol…what memories this post brought to me. I did not realize other people said that….we just thought it was her silly words…My mom passed away suddenly two weeks ago today. She was 93 and had a wonderful life but she had not been ill and this was incredibly sudden. Somehow reading this gives me peace. Perhaps Mom and my Aunt are above watching over me through this message saying now you can enjoy life. slow down….no need to sweep while walking…your caregiving days are done:) thanks for this wonderful post Debra…

    1. Debra

      Donna, I am so sorry for your loss. I am glad this blog post brought comfort and thoughts of your
      loved ones.

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