My beloved Aunt & Godmother recently moved out of her family home and has bestowed an amazing gift upon me and my cousins… she asked us to go through her home, before they clear it out to sell, and select things that we wanted to keep. We were told to choose things that we could use… that might remind us of her or of our childhood… and take them with us. I expected it to be really sad to walk into her home, especially after many of the larger pieces were gone before I ever got there. Due to a scheduling conflict, I was unable to be there when my cousins were there, so my husband and I went up the following weekend.
It was a really emotional experience. Everywhere we looked, there were family photos or pieces of artwork that my aunt had painted. We chose the mantel clock that had once belonged to my grandmother and knew it would fit our new home’s mantel perfectly. We found a barn painting in the attic that my aunt painted long ago that will look wonderful in our dining room. The living room mantel painting is one that my son wants for his new apartment, along with a vacuum cleaner that will last him a lifetime. The beautiful chair we selected will have a new home in our living room as the completion of my writing desk. Even the fish… my aunt caught it on a fishing trip to the keys and no one wanted to keep it, so I think I’ll use it as a decoration in a guest room. Makes the idea of redecorating even more exciting when it means incorporating pieces of family history into the mix.
The short journey into my childhood was bittersweet. When my parents divorced, I was only 10, so my view of “the truth” was severely skewed. As much as I would love to think that one person or the other was at fault, it’s not for me to say with any degree of knowledge or certainty. There’s enough blame to pass around for decades but I can commiserate with both “sides” of the situation and cannot imagine the pain that was shared throughout the entire family. Nevertheless, I will always be grateful for every part of my childhood… I wouldn’t be the person I am today without it.
My Godmother’s home was always special to me. I have sweet memories of playing on the swingset in my her backyard… of family Christmas celebrations throughout the years… of meals shared around all the tables in her home… and of always finding comfort and safety within the walls of her home. While I will miss the bricks and mortar of the building from which these items came, I will now always have pieces from various rooms throughout that home that will evoke positive memories of days gone by. I was blessed with a loving, caring, gregarious, and generous family… I couldn’t have asked for any better way to grow up.
Our family tree may be changing, as all trees must, but I cannot imagine my own without being grateful for every branch… every leaf… every root. Our personal history is what makes each of us special and unique. We learn and we acclimate, we aim and we adjust. We must, as we become the adult generation, remember to tell the stories and share the memories so that the family history isn’t lost. That the children of my children will always know just who caught that odd looking fish in my home… they’ll know that the mantel clock once belonged to their great-great grandmother… and hopefully, some day, they’ll appreciate the care and love that has been lavished upon a family to which they belong.
It’s in their blood…. they’ll understand…