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Grandma's Pencil Sharpener

Updated: Oct 26, 2022




Growing up, we lived next door to my grandmother, and we loved her dearly. I spent a lot of time at her house, doing craft projects and making candy. She knew how to keep a child’s hands busy.


It wasn’t until I was forty-nine years old, after my parents died in a head-on collision, that I realized my relationship with Grandma was through my mother. It turned out I didn’t know her as an adult. I had only known her as child-to-grandmother. But in the vacuum left by my parents, I needed her, and I figured she needed me since she had just lost her daughter and son-in-law.


To solidify that bond, I went to visit her. By now Grandma was 93 years old and living alone in that same house. I lived in another state over a thousand miles away, so I went with the intention of staying a couple of days. On the second day of my visit, I went into the bathroom and found that she was out of toilet paper. I opened the base cabinet where I thought it would be, and there, to my surprise, was an old pencil sharpener screwed to the inside of the door. It was the 1950s style with the hand crank and different size holes to fit every pencil you could ever have. It was pitted with rust and looked like it had been there for decades.


Later, I mentioned it to her. “Grandma, there’s an old pencil sharpener on the inside of the bathroom cabinet door. That seems like an odd place to put it.”


She grinned sheepishly and said, “We were hiding it from you.”


Apparently, when I was a child I used to grind down her pencils to nothing, for the sheer joy of using the pencil sharpener. I must say, it was an excellent hiding place! It took me over forty years to find it.



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