antique milk bottle, antiques, Eva's Best Drink, post World War II, Queen Anne Victorian house, relics, renovation of an old home, San Benito, Texas
I looked her in the eye and told her that we would live in this house. This house would be ours. I was expecting the owner to scoff at me especially considering that she had just literally laughed at our meager little offer on the house that was 1/3 of the original asking price. But instead she looked at me for a minute then smiled and told me to follow her. She took me upstairs to the guest bedroom that was lined with brown faux wood paneling left over from the 70’s. There on the fireplace mantle sat a small glass bottle which she handed to me.
At first I thought that it was a pretty cool looking relic but then she told me the significance of the bottle. When Evelyn first bought the house back in the 80’s she realized that someone was going to have to crawl under the house to take a look at what was the state of the plumbing and electrical wiring. Scrappy woman that she is, Evelyn decided that she would be the one to do it. Under the house it is pitch black with all manner of wildlife probably sustaining their own ecosystem within the crawl space of the house. Still, Evelyn proceeded with her quest. While she was sliding around on her belly examining the house’s foundation she found a glass milk bottle that dates back to post World War II daily life . Who knows how long it had been there or how it got there. We can only assume that it rolled under the house from the front porch. The possibilities of it’s whereabouts were endless and intriguing to me.
But what really caught my attention and took my breath away was that the name brand of the milk was “Eva’s Best Drink.” It still gives me chills. I looked at Evelyn and told her that my daughter’s name is Eva and she is named after my grandma Eva. It turns out that Evelyn’s grandmother was also named Eva and that she had named her company after HER grandmother Eva. Evelyn’s own name was a derision of her grandmother’s name as well. Evelyn credits her “Eva company” as the main financial provider for her many, many restoration projects for the house because when she bought the house it was in shambles. In a sense, it was the legacy of her grandmother Eva that rebuilt this house. When Evelyn found the milk bottle she took it as a sign that this house would be blessed. Well, that was it. Sold. Ms. Evelyn did not accept our offer that day but we both knew that this house would one day be ours.
It’s been almost 2 years since that conversation about the milk bottle but this last weekend I could not get this story out of my head. It was my Grandma Eva’s funeral and all around me was evidence that she had built this home just as much as Evelyn’s grandmother had built the house. There were so many, many pictures of the chic and classy woman that was Grandma Eva. There were so many stories and eulogies shared; all of them detailing how she had put her faith and her family first. Always. There were memories galore and tears of joy that come with honoring and celebrating the life of a remarkable loved one.
Many times I scanned the room and breathed in the sweet fruits of my grandparents’ labor. It was a soothing, nourishing, and warm scent. Like fresh milk. Grandma Eva was the mother of all these people. Good people. People who are doing things with their lives to make this world a better place. She built this house. My grandparents, they laid the foundation for all of these people who I am privileged and blessed to call family.
I looked at my daughter Eva who is one of the heirs to this kingdom and prayed that I could build her a home as lovely as the one that was built for me. We don’t have to rebuild the house like Evelyn had to, but we are building ourselves a family and several ministries within the walls of this home. Evelyn’s grandma Eva lived on in the legacy of her business that allowed for her to restore this house; my grandma Eva’s legacy would live on through the scaffolding of our family as we made this house our own. I looked at my daughter Eva and realized that she really inherited both legacies. What a grand idea for such a tiny little person! My Eva would reap the harvest of at least five generations of women who came before her. All of them necessary in the building of the generation that followed and all of them essential to the restoration of the physical house that she would build her childhood memories in.
The “Eva’s Best Drink” story would stand as a reminder of how generations past have nourished us in their selfless sacrifices to build us up into the people that we become. I realized that this story kept coming to the forefront of my mind during Grandma Eva’s funeral because it put things in perspective for me. As I begin this journey of restoring an old home, I am thirsting for time to complete the ever growing list of home improvement projects so much so that I often lose sight of the bigger picture- the little people who are right beside me. However, the best drink that will come from this house will not be from the completed projects but from the building of a family within these walls. Eva gave her best and I am still drinking it all in. Cheers!
My little Eva celebrating her great-grandmother’s 80th birthday!