Her grandmother’s artistic talents had not been limited to pottery and birdhouses. Emma had been a gifted painter, although her interest had waned quickly. Several paintings had been sold through Matt’s gallery and brought a respectable price, but despite his urgings, she produced no more. Instead, she began to collect trash and fashion it into sculptures. Kelly wasn’t fond of this type of sculpture, but could appreciate the artists’ talent. Emma’s works were devoid of that talent. Her grandmother had never owned a computer, but had salvaged old cases to build one piece. An arm had been fashioned from a rusted rake, which impaled a mounted trout on one point.
“Phishing?” Ellen had quipped. They were careful not to hurt Emma’s feelings, but behind her back, the sculptures became a family joke. Once she had asked Matt to show them at his gallery. He couldn’t refuse, but presented his dilemma to the family.
“It’s a business. I can’t show those heaps of trash”.
“Then just don’t do it. You know she’s not the type of person to ask more than once.”
“I know, Ellen. But I hate to hurt her feelings.”
Ned came up with the solution.
“Take one and put it in storage, Matt. Your grandmother will never visit the gallery. Just say you’re short of space for large items and that you’ll have to wait until the first one sells to show another.”
“Thanks, Grandpa. I can do that.”
Ned had gone a step further, confiding to Emma that he really hated to part with them. She could not refuse him and surprised him by enlisting Jerry’s help to line the drive with her creations. Kelly wasn’t sure if he had intended to please his grandmother or irritate his grandfather. Perhaps a bit of both. Ned had thanked him and offered to pay for his time. Jerry had stiffened and turned away. Later she had overheard him talking to Matt.
“He thinks he has to pay me or I’ll steal something from him.”
“Maybe he just wants to help a bit, Jerry. Didn’t he stand by you?”
“You know he did. But he still thinks I did it. I know he blames me for ruining his business. Kelly should have told the truth.”
She’d turned away, not wanting to hear more.
Emma had always watched from the window for their visits.
“I like to see your smiling faces.”
“Good thing she doesn’t know the sculptures cause the smiles. “
Looking back, they would recognize those works as the first sign of Emma’s dementia. Matt and Jerry had offered to take them down after her death, thinking it would hurt Grandpa to see them each time he came home. Ned had forbid it.
“I guess she knows about our jokes now. I’ll pay for that when it’s my time to go. Can you imagine what she’d do to me, if I took them down?”
For a second she saw her grandmother’s face at the window. Her grandfather emerged from the workshop, raising a hand over his eyes to block the sun. She shook her head and returned to the present. Only silence was there to greet her. Emptiness hovered everywhere. How could she manage to stay here, even for one night?
To be continued.