Painted in grade 8, many, many years ago.
I stopped briefly at my late aunt’s house today and was helping sort through things when I kept looking at this painting. I was a little surprised that my aunt would have some folk art in her home. And then I realized it was something I had painted in grade 8!
Our relationship was not a close one at all. At one point we had one, but as I got older and more outspoken and her life took turns and twists we grew completely apart. I didn’t even know if she ever even thought about me. So it was more than moving to realize that something I had created as a young girl was treated with such dignity and honour by my aunt. She had it professionally framed (which is why I didn’t even recognize it at first). It was obviously hung somewhere in the house. It meant something to her. I meant something to her.
It feels really raw to realize this. All these years (decades) we hardly spoke. Yet all these years my art was on her wall. Knowing this does something to me. It lifted my chin a little and my shoulders pulled back just a touch. There are very few things that I want to duplicate from my aunt’s life, but I hope that I can duplicate that feeling in my own children, nieces and nephews. That feeling that they mattered to me.
The other day I sat in the kitchen with my seven year old daughter drinking Pink Lady tea out of my newly inherited Royal Albert Sweet Violets china and munching on macaroons from Trader Joe’s. It was an ordinary day and it was wonderful. And sad.
My little girl was buzzing with excitement at getting to drink tea, with mom, from the china! I could see the pride in her eyes, feeling a little older, a little wiser and very much prouder of herself. We chatted about things that matter in a seven year old’s world. It was perfectly blissful and perfectly ordinary and yet it was a moment that I treasure.
The china has a story, as all china should. You see I inherited it from an aunt who recently passed away at a fairly young age. Her life story is her’s and I’m not going to go into it here (that’s another blog someday). What I will share is that she loved fine things and had a beautiful collection of china, full service, that went to my mom. The china I received was a new set she had begun to collect and only got to 4 settings of the basics items plus a few serving plates.
What made me sad was that most of the pieces still had price tags attached. It had never been used. It never sat on the table between two friends while stories were shared, thoughts and dreams revealed, hearts exposed and friendships deepened. It never hosted beloved relatives. It never held soothing tea that helped to heal a broken heart, a broken dream or a disappointment. It was never cradled in the hands of friends whispering secrets or sharing hopes. It never served little sandwiches, cookies or treats. It just sat in a cupboard somewhere unused. It didn’t help create memories.
It reminded me that life is not about what we have, but about what we share and whom we share it with. Beautiful china like that should stir up memories from years gone by as it serves in the background of the stories of our lives. This china didn’t. At least not until now.
I’ve determined that should my daughter one day inherit this china (or perhaps a daughter of hers) it will evoke wonderful memories of ordinary moments woven throughout the story of her life. Hopefully the china will evoke wonderful memories of moments spent with me.
This set of china is getting another opportunity to have a story. A new story and I’m determined to make that story one of many wonderful and cherished memories.