Thursday, June 14, 2012

So Many Stories, So Much Stuff

There are so many belongings in this household of Mom and Dad's, this house in Seattle which they left over five years ago for adult senior living facilities and then adult family homes. Mom's gone now, but Dad is still alert and very much interested in this process of transferring his belongings to children and grandchildren. Day by day, we fill Dad in with stories of his grand children's choices and their reasons for choosing. His eyes light up and he says, "That's wonderful. I'm glad to hear that."
So, here are some of the stories that will define this time that could be fraught with indecision, worry and even angst, but is seemingly overpowered with heartwarming interactions and decisions. Dad's first grandchild is Caroline Shirley, named for both her paternal great grandmothers. Her number one choice on those spreads was a six by six foot hand hooked rug that Dad made in the 1970s in Aruba. He hooked many rugs throughout his years in Aruba. This one was a kit from Norway and the biggest one he ever tackled. I asked Caroline why she made this her number one choice and said, "Because Grandfather made it. I'm a crafter and I like to make things too." When I told Dad that Caroline chose his hand hooked rug, he said,"That's good. I thought no one would want it." When I told him why she wanted his rug, he beamed with pleasure.
 Dad's only grandson, Chris, decided with his wife Heather, that the dining room table and chairs were just what they needed. Newly married, they are furnishing their first home. I've eaten at Mom and Dad's table (or one just like it) since 1951. The table and matching chairs are old Lago Oil & Transport Company furniture, originally purchased by Standard Oil,N.J. for employee homes in Aruba. We moved there in 1951. I grew up with Lago furniture and I have a soft spot in my heart for it. Sometime in the late 1970s, after Mom and Dad retired and moved to Houston, Mom began what she called Monday lunches. Everyone in our extended family could drop by for terrific home cooking and lots of conversation. Always plenty of stories told and retold about times past. I've taken my place at this table that Chris inherited several thousands of times.
Chris, invite us to Gig Harbor for a Monday lunch or a Saturday lunch. Whatever works for you and Heather. Someone is sure to bring Bama's beans or her barley casserole.
Jeanne McGrady wanted the Lago buffet. Said she was entertaining the family on Boxing Day every year and intended to have ever more family gatherings. So the buffet is hers. She and Dan and the kids picked it up on Sunday afternoon and I saw it in its new digs last evening. Well, it absolutely makes the room. Both the dining room and buffet never looked better.

Carrie's first choice was Mom's carved Indian screen which was the first thing you saw as you walked into their Houston townhouse. They carted it all the way to Seattle, but I don't remember that they ever used it again in their living room. The stores in Aruba would get a new item and dozens of folks from Lago would decide they couldn't live without it. I think the carved screen was one of those things.  We never got the full story from Mom, but it seemed to me to be more exotic than most of her choices. I any case, our family home, like most in Aruba, was eventually filled with furnishings from all over the world. A bit of a mis-mash, but 'so Aruba'. There was always this sense that folks were buying these things to furnish their dream homes back in the States, whenever that time came. They'd have their own household of beautiful things.
Enough stories for one night. It's very late and tomorrow is Korean spa day. Body scrub at 10:00, followed by time in the hot rooms and lunch and then, a full body moisturizing treatment that includes coatings of olive oil, milk and honey over every inch of me, plus ice cold cucumber slices on my face. Maybe, all of this will be as restorative as the Caribbean salt water? That's the hope.
More stories. More stuff. Next post.


Sharon said...

So many beautiful things ~ so many stories. You and Kate and John are doing a massive job with such patience. I tried without success to get my mom to go through things at her [much smaller] house 8 years ago and then 4 years ago, while she is still able to do all of that with me. I wound up doing all the clearing out of clutter myself, and she was unwilling to pack more than a few boxes of glassware. She has been back to the house just once or twice, and it wasn't to do any more organizing or packing up. My family has different priorities so there will be little saved when the time comes, and I have made peace with that.

MMH said...

Nice to hear from you. We've had quite a week. We are tired out, but I found I liked passing on possessions and stories to the next generations.