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The Written Word: “The Tin”

by | May 21, 2020 | The Written Word

The Tin
by Libby Cable

I spent many glorious school vacation weeks with my grandmother in Massachusetts when I was young. I’m the oldest of four and found the one-on-one attention of an adult with limitless time for me a pure delight. Occasionally, she took me to a museum, the beach or bowling, but, mostly, we took on activities close to home—gardening, skating, snowshoeing (depending on the season)—and baking.

My grandmother lived in the house her father built around 1900. Some of the cookware and appliances predated the home’s construction, for sure. One such item was a small tin cannister the size of a drinking cup, with a removable tin lid with holes in it. She kept flour in it and shook it to sprinkle the flour on a surface for making bread or pie crust. The pantry where her baking took place was no bigger than a telephone booth. We were joyfully covered in flour by the end of a project!

It happens that I had a recurring dream for much of my childhood and young adulthood that involves this little tin shaker. The dream details vary, but the common thread was me being pursued by a bad guy. Heart racing, I would run away as fast as I could to save myself. Inevitably, my pursuer would catch up and, just as he was about to pounce, I’d pull that little tin out of my pocket and frantically shake the magic dust onto my head. Within a split second, and just in time, I’d take to the air, beyond his evil grasp, and fly to safety. Without the contents of that little tin, well…I hate to think.

My grandmother passed away in 2004 at 96. I’m so grateful that our children got to know her. Her home stayed in the family for several years after that, during which time her belongings were gradually distributed and the house sadly fell into disrepair. I didn’t want to go back to the house; I didn’t want to tarnish my happy, vibrant memories.

My mother, my sisters and I would reminisce lovingly whenever we were together. On one such occasion, about 12 years ago, my mother casually reached into her purse. “Oh, I have something silly you may or may not want. Would this be of any interest to you?”

I gasped— the tin! My heart skipped. She had no idea of its magic.

“Yes, Mom. I’d love to have it. Come sit, and let me tell you why.”

Libby Cable

Libby is a collaborative leader who spent her career guiding change initiatives across the non-profit sectors in Vermont and the Charlotte region. Happily retired, she currently serves on the Town's Public Art Commission and Davidson Housing Coalition's Board. She and her husband, Dave, are delighted to have landed in Davidson six years ago.

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