When my mother died, it fell upon me and my three surviving siblings to break up a houseful of belongings that had accumulated over 50 years. Everyone says it’s a terrible task, and believe me, it is.
Although her taste was not mine, every item in my parents’ house seemed to belong where it was, inspiring an odd sense of loyalty, even though we had no clue what to do with it all. In the end, much was donated after each of us took what we wanted for the memories or as useful additions to our own households.
In my case, a favorite seascape hangs over my living room mantel. My daughter has my mom’s big, comfortable bed. Her washer and dryer are upstairs in my laundry room now.
A southern gal with modern taste, my mother put her own stamp on dark, antique (read: valuable) furniture by painting it. This horrified many people over the years. In the ’60s and ’70s, she went on an ironic “antiquing” kick, painting everything white with a gold cast, to make it look old. Even though it already was.
In subsequent years, she caught the cottage craze and “freshened up” a lovely old mahogany wheeled tea cart, matching secretary desk, and grandfather clock by painting them a nearly indescribable apple green with pink and yellow decorative accents, as if it belonged in the Caribbean. Yes, it was really as … unusual as it sounds.
The clock, in particular, (which actually could be a grandmother clock,) was referred to as just “grandfather.” It had chimed from a corner of the dining room for decades. Originally quite stately, it now was sissified, silent, and an albatross, which made me feel terrible even though a clock obviously has no feelings.
The days ticked down, the house was sold, and a decision had to be made. Of course, I ended up taking grandfather (along with a lot of other things I didn’t want) and putting it in the front hall of my house near the door. I thought about repainting it, but I’m surprised to report it actually looks pretty decent next to a newly painted warm peach wall.
The funny thing is, when we set grandfather into place, it started ticking – as if the heartbeat of all those years in my parents’ house is still beating strong right here in mine. Which makes it seem sort of timeless. Despite the paint job.