objects as memories

They’re no longer part of my mother’s house – the swans, the glass grapes, the Venetian vase.

These objects, nothing really special but always there, now live in my house along with Grace Munro Roy’s special china, a set of bamboo-design plates that came from Japan in 1952.

The swans, I think, are the oldest. I remember floating candles – home-made candles – in those swans, usually for Christmas decorations. They also housed floating blossoms, azaleas, rhododendron, a rosebud.

The red glass grapes and the red Venetian vase, once a set of two, came from Ed. I think the grapes are from Greece and the vase, of course, is from Italy. Its counterpart is with Linda, Chip’s wife, who saw it in a photo and loved it.  I also have a small bedside table that came from Ed. My mother used it in her office to store cards, but I set it beside my bed to hold my cypress knee lamp from Mr. Lake.

I haven’t used the bamboo dishes yet. I imagine their first use will come when my mother visits me.

But when I see those objects, I immediately think of her. She’s part of my home.

Of course, her presence is not new. I’ve always had part of her home in mine – the recliner, the overstuffed chair, the Richards Topical encyclopedias, the wooden lamp Daddy made and her desk, one given to her by Daddy.  I have the piano she and Daddy bought me and kept in my bedroom on Probart Street. I have the washstand from Brevard College, which looks just like the ones in Mother’s house. Over my mantle is a silk painting from Japan, one that hung over the couch in our living room.

And it’s not just my mother whose presence inhabits my home.

I have a camel teapot from Sister, my great-aunt, and a hair holder from my grandmother, Polly Munro. I have a copy of Little Gracie, Daddy’s fighter that he flew in World War II. I have the silk flowers my mother gave me for my 40th birthday and small dishes from Mary Stevenson (given by my mother) and my grandmother Munro. I have a cut-glass cookie jar that my grandmother, Maxie Jackson, gave me for my 16th birthday as well as a well-worn apron of hers.

A stuffed Tiger from my father’s ESSO station sits in my study. Daddy’s U.S. Air Force cap also rests in my study. I have a wooden vase he made in a window. A teapot from Chip and Linda graces in my kitchen window. The bellows Daddy made for our fireplace are now at mine as is the fireplace set he made as a teenager. A delicate tea cup from my great-grandmother, Belle Munro, sits on my piano. A wooden candy dish, crafted by father, sits near the television, and an ancient clay lamp from Israel came from Ed.

I’m never alone. I’m surrounded by my family and memories of them everywhere in my house.

– Jenny Munro