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.