Confession: I’m teary just writing this post. Pulling this together has reminded me how blessed I am to have a gorgeous piece that belonged to my grandmother. But she gave me more than just this beautiful dining room buffet.
She gave me its (her) story, too.
My grandmother passed almost fours ago, three months shy of turning 103. Yes, 103. She was a William & Mary graduate (among the first women!), an Army wife from the early 1930’s through 1961 and lived longer without my grandfather than she lived with him. Theirs was an enduring love story of international travel and living (courtesy of the US Army) and separations of up to 3 years during war time. Can you imagine?
She had the most magnificent memory and could verbally weave a story or description that most writers would envy. She was also a master of the written word and wrote long descriptive letters of her day-to-day activities, memories she wanted to impart to us grandchildren, and anecdotes and observations. I began saving her notes and letters in the early 1990’s. For the two years prior, I was blessed to live and work 50 miles from her and came to know her and love her dearly and deeply as only a young adult woman could. I have always treasured that time of closeness.
I was the first granddaughter to get married. The first to have a baby. The first to buy a house. The first to have a true dining room. She gave me her buffet in 1999.
And then the “story”, her-story, arrived in my mailbox.
In her words…
When we returned from Panama in Jan 1941, we were ordered to Camp Claiborne in Alexandria, Louisiana… It was the first time we had to rent a house and not live in quarters. Of course quarters always had furniture… we found a nice little new house and persuaded the owner to rent it to us. He had planned to move his parents into it, but being moved by our need, he let us rent it. We needed a stove, refrigerator, beds for the children — and dining room furniture.
We proceeded to the best furniture store in town, and it so happened the manager was a brother-in-law of our Commanding officer in Panama. He bent over backwards to help, so we bought the above items. We settled for Gus’s [my grandfather’s] wardrobe trunk as our chest of drawers, and managed quite nicely. The joys of Army life!
The dining room furniture stayed with us for good because it was nice looking and served its purpose… So enjoy, dear, as we did.
I’ve loved having this substantial and graceful piece in my dining room for the last 13 years… it has a massive amount of storage! But what I love most about this piece is her story. And knowing that my grandparents chose it together and enjoyed it together in the many homes they lived in over the years. She’s a well-traveled piece, including a stint is Garmisch, Germany and the home they retired to in Newport, R.I.
The letter will stay with the buffet, no matter where it goes in the future — to our someday retirement home or to one of my children in a home of their own. The history (her-story) lends context and meaning to the piece, making it a truly rare and beautiful treasure that connects me to my heritage.
I think of Nana often (she visits me in my dreams now and then) and especially when I’m polishing her buffet. I can just imagine her, fifty or sixty years ago, lovingly buffing this “nice looking” piece with the furniture polish she made herself. Yes, she had a lost recipe for furniture polish, but recommended I use Guardsman since I had little children running about and hers was flammable.
Quite the remarkable lady. She lived out Proverbs 24:3 each and every day, seeking the Lord’s wisdom, knowledge of Him, and understanding of His plan for her. Her legacy is a rare and beautiful treasure in its own right.
I’d love to hear about your own rare and beautiful treasures in your home! Please share…
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