Granny’s Medicine Cabinet

My grandmother owns a lake house and, in 2010, while helping clean up the place and throw out some stuff I knew she didn’t need (as she is a pack rat) I came across her medicine cabinet and some of the things contained therein… some of which were over 40 years old!

My grandfather passed away suddenly in 1983 at the young age of 57, so it was a shock to find old of his razors still waiting in the cabinet as if he was going to use it the following morning even though a layer of rust betrayed its true age.

This also belonged to my grandfather.  I haven’t been able to date the bottle accurately yet, but my best guess is that it originated in the mid to late 1970’s.

A bottle of Bayer Aspirin with some pills still in the bottle.  Again, I’m not sure about the date as few of the items in the cabinet had expiration dates on them or manufacture dates on them, but it had a metal lid and, at the very least, is from the early 1980’s.

For some reason, there was an instruction book on a card game called Rook.  I was a little dismayed to see that games had better ways of telling when they were produced than medicine did.

No date was available from the Banalg which was still in its box, but the hair spray dated from 1991.

A bar of soap from the Stardust Casino outlasted the Stardust Casino itself which was demolished in 2007.  The bar of soap is from 1985.

Again, no date on this one and I couldn’t find any information about Preiffer’s Iodine Tincture.

One of the few medicinal items in the cabinet that did have date on it was this box of Blistex from 1969.  The Blistex, of course, had long since melted and dried, but it beautifully preserved the box in a waxy greasy husk.

I was never sure why my Granny kept all of this junk.  She is 83 years-old, but hardly senile.  She’s got her wits about her and her silver tongue and, although dulled, they often best those half her age.  Being the judgmental youngster I am, I was clicking my tongue at her and her ancient ways, keeping stuff that could be potentially dangerous. 

Then I came across this — Aqua Velva aftershave from the late 1970’s/early 1980’s.  It was the original scent before they messed with the formula in the mid-1980’s.  I opened the cap and took a sniff and instantly, I was transported back into my grandfather’s arm.  The scent didn’t really bring back memories, but it did make the memories I have more vivid.  I remembered his smell, his laugh, and the comfort I had when he picked me up almost thirty years ago.

I did dispose of some things.  The Bayer bottle was emptied into the trash, but the bottle itself was placed back in the cabinet as was the razor and the half-full bottle of Aqua Velva.  Who was I to take these away?

I wrote this article in 2010 when my grandmother was facing the earliest stages of Alzheimer’s Disease. Granny passed away in 2016 and the items I left in her medicine cabinet remain there to this day.

Written by Jason Gaston

Father, teacher, writer, photographer, artist, actor, male model, and inventor of the semicolon.

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