Wednesday, June 20, 2012

If only ...

I did a bit of redecorating in the living room today ... I hauled the oil lamps that Mom and Dad long ago coverted into electric lights up from the basement. The lamp graced Mom's living room for years ... the dangling glass ornaments were endlessly fascinating to me when I was a kid, and I remember carefully removing them from the lamp and playing with them on the floor ... I don't remember what my inevitable punishment was, I only remember Mom coming into the living room and gasping "OH MY GOD!!!"

My best guess, based on experience was that I got a spanking ... that was pretty much status quo ... and I got quite a few over the years!

Today though as I unpacked the delicate glass lamps and set them out in the living room, I was awash in memories ... more of Mom's house has moved and been incorporated into our house, and with the bits and pieces and furniture comes a host of memories and recollections ... but what I realized today is how much has been lost along the way.

One of the lamps has a loose bulb in the base, and for the life of me, I can't figure out how to get in there to tighten or replace the bulb. I poked around for awhile trying to reveal the secret ... I was even tempted to say "Open Sesame!" But instead I offered the prayer - "Isabell, it would have been helpful for your to show us the secret ..."

Alas, over and over I find myself trying to remember snippets of the many stories associated with furniture, collectibles and other items that have come out of Mom's house. The brown wooden rocking chair belonged to SOMEONE in our extended family tree, but no one can recall which of our long ago ancestors once sat in the ancient chair ... it came from Chesley, but the rest of the story was in Mom's memory and may be gone for ever ... fortunately, along the way some snippets have been preserved and have revealed other bits and pieces of my history.

My one regret is that I didn't listen a little better when Mom was running through her litany of memories and stories. I had heard some of the stories SO MANY TIMES, that I stopped listening and just wanted Mom to get to the end so we could talk about something else, or I could go and do ANYTHING else. Today, I really would love to sit at the kitchen table and ask her about the rocking chair, the lamps, the photos, or any number of other items I've gathered and moved and pondered ... Like the many boxes and bins that crowd my basement and porches, Mom's stories crowded her memory and overwhelmed the rest of us ...

I guess the task ahead is for us to reclaim the tatters of Mom's old memories and use them to inform the memories and the stories that will be part of our future as a family ... the objects and furniture will be the touchstones that Noahkila, Ms H, and Beetle use to remember Grandma Izzy, Uncle Scott, the stories of Grandpa Sam, Terrific Grandma and the other members of the family who helped create the clan we are now proudly part of ... today, two beautiful antique lamps remind us that life is to be lived forward, but the touchstones remind us of where we've come from.

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