Almost 20 years ago my grandmother…Mema…came to visit me in Washington State. I was always excited to see her. “She is a light to my sometimes gray and dingy world.” While sitting at dinner one night she told me she was beginning to mark Items in her house to give members of the family when she passed away. I loved the idea of having my name on certain items…my little claim to those precious memories of my Mema. She asked me what items I would like and why. A smiled filled my heart as I reached into my memories of her house. “There are a few things I would love to have to remind me of you…I would love to have my “Mema’s Chairs”!”
Her expression covered a small range of emotion as I began to describe the chairs.
I would love to have the White chair that sits at the writing desk in the living room…I have a fond memory of you Mema…sitting at the desk taking care of your daily bills and your correspondence. You instilled in each of us the importance of writing a letter or short note to those who were important to us. You would lay your heart upon the page as you kept those dear to you current with the aspects of your life. “People need to know they are loved and a short note can brighten anyone’s day!”.
The Princess Chair that sits in your bedroom in front of the window. I remember watching you as you sat in that chair to put on your shoes. This was also the chair I sat in while you put on your make-up. I would sit there…with my ankles crossed like a little lady. I felt like such a grown up because it sat low to the ground and my feet could actually touch the ground. My grandmother had a puzzled look in her face…”Princess Chair?” “Yes ma’am…the little pinkish chair…that looks like a small throne.” “I always felt like a princess when I sat in that chair.”
She smiled and said she knew exactly which chair I was talking about.
There is another chair…well 2…they sit in the dinning room in front of the window. The extra captains chairs that you recently had recovered. (The one in the picture above!) They are so elegant and embody your grace and style. I would love to have them so I could have you with me at dinner time. Manners and conversation, each taught while sharing the simplest meal or full family dinner. Those memories should be passed down to my children and having these chairs would preserve your influences in my life daily.
A graceful chuckle escaped as she reached out to give me a hug. “Thank you for being able to share those wonderful memories with me…What a lovely explanation of why you wanted these items.”. She asked if there was anything else and I quickly shared with her about two sets of dishes and the biscuit tin and a glass set that sat on top of her refrigerator as we completed our meal. That was the last of that discussion and we never talked about this topic again.
My mother told me a couple of years later how much my explanation had meant to her. She had been surprised a bit by the items I had asked for. She related the stories and told my mother that she could see, after my explanation, why I must receive these particular items.
Within the past few years my Mema could no longer live in her wonderful home without assistance. Her health had become an issue and she was being moved to an assisted living complex. Needless to say…she needed to begin the division of her property. “I went over to help with the move!” My aunt and uncle, as well as my parents, told me to make sure I packed up the items I wanted and take them home with me. Sticky notes had been put on certain items by others in the family and anything not marked was far game. “What a lovely thought!…She was still sitting in her long time home and people were sweeping in and taking her belongings right in front of her.”
I went up to her bedroom, where she and my sisters were going through her clothes. She immediately motioned for me. “I want you to take that chair with you today…I will be taking the other chairs with me to the apartment.” Mema was pointing to the Princess Chair still sitting next to the window in her room. “I would not let anyone take it…it is for you!” We both fought back the tears. I did not like seeing her like this…
She told me of a few other items she had put aside for me as we went through her clothes. “I will share those items with you another time!”
Mema was not in her apartment for long due to her health growing increasingly worse. She has since been moved two other times. My presence was again called for and I drove from my home in Georgia to Birmingham, Alabama. It was at this time I was given the other chairs. The set from the dinning room were used in the apartment’s living room. One had been clawed and torn beyond repair by her always invisible cat. Finicky does not describe this well loved member of the family who remained hidden away from visitors. “He did not like large groups!” I retrieved the chair left unmarked by the cat and took it to my car…I went back in and began the sorting of items for storage and those being moved to her new home. In the corner of the small room which held her desk was sitting the White Chair covered in books and photos needing to be boxed. My aunt walked into the room as I was running my hand along the back of the chair…
Long story short…these 3 chairs are all in my home now. The Captain’s Chair, with the elegant blue and white pattern, sits in the corner of my living room giving me the feeling that Mema is with me. The White Chair sits next to my desk in my office/sitting room and has inspired me in my writings on many occasions. The little pink pillow was in the chair when I picked it up and still accents the bright white chair. The Princess Chair came home with me that first visit and is in my bedroom…by the window sitting next to a slender chest she wanted me to have. My Mema has touched my heart and now fills my home with loving memories. It gives a comfortable, at home, feeling to extended family when they visit my home. To have these pieces brings a familiar tug to the heart and anyone who loves my Mema are drawn to “Mema’s Chairs!”
Do you have things that belonged to your parents or grandparents that have been passed down? Do they hold a special place in your heart and home? “They do in mine…I love my Mema and I hold on to those memories everyday when I see “Mema’s Chairs”!“. Have a great day!