Thoughtful Thursday: Heirlooms

April 7, 2011

Thoughtful Thursday

Go fuck yourself, March. Make way for the April Intelligentsia, the people who commented on every Thoughtful Thursday post for the month of March.

First, inducted into the Intelligentsia Hall of Fame is Wiseguy formerly of Woman Anyone?, who has achieved Intelligentsia status 26 times and only missed a single week in the history of Thoughtful Thursday. She will no longer be blogging or commenting under that moniker, though I suspect that we may hear from her in other ways. She epitomizes thoughtfulness.

#18: Elana from Elana’s Musings
#17: Lost In Translation from We Say IVF, They Say FIV
#15: A from Are You Kidding Me?
#10: Strongblonde from Strong Blonde
#2: Tara from Turkey In My Oven

Thoughtful ThursdayHere are the keepsakes I brought back after my mother’s death:

  • Jewelry
  • A flamboyant brand new handbag that Tamale may enjoy using someday, either for dress-up in a couple of years or for going out on the town in her teens
  • Photos
  • A few letters written to her by people in her family, and a card I sent her when I was in college in a rare display of emotion
  • Documents: unpaid bills, documentation, boring stuff
  • A couple of children’s books she’d presumably bought for Burrito and Tamale
  • Maxi pads
  • An unopened box of Thin Mints

These last two are funny. I happened to be in specific need of feminine products when I got the call from the hospital that my mother’s condition had become dire. If I hadn’t had to get on a plane immediately, I would have gone to the drugstore that day because I hadn’t realized that my supply was almost gone. I didn’t have time to go to the store before heading to the hospital first thing when I arrived. After she died, I went to go through her things, and there were all of these maxi pads, somehow anticipating my need. I have no idea why she even had maxi pads, except maybe as a lightweight alternative to Depends (of which there were three enormous packages in her closet, and which I did not bring back with me).

The Thin Mints: even though she wasn’t supposed to eat this kind of food, she never could resist a sales pitch from a Girl Scout.

I happen to still have a couple of other boxes of Girl Scout cookies left that I bought. I’ve found myself going through them unusually slowly, because once I finish those, it’s time to start on the box my mother bought, and once I finish those, they’re gone, forever. That box of cookies is no different from any other box in this world, at least in theory. It’s now in the pantry with the other boxes, and no one else could tell them apart, but I know which one was hers.

As for the jewelry, a couple of pieces are valuable. Several are cheap but I don’t know what else to do with it except stick it all in my jewelry box. Her ring (one of the bands she wore; her diamond ring has disappeared though it may still be at the hospital) goes into a lineup at the back of my jewelry box consisting of:

  • Diamond ring my father gave as a gift to my paternal grandmother during an especially flush period of his life (she is still alive, but she gave it to me when I was a young adult because it’s “too fancy” for her)
  • Very cheap but sentimental ring my paternal grandfather bought overseas during WWII
  • Men’s pinky ring and women’s amber ring from DH’s paternal grandparents, both given to us when they were alive and inspired to hand things down; DH would never wear a pinky ring, and I would never wear an old lady ring like that (or maybe I will when I’m old?) but they’re precious nonetheless
  • Cufflinks from DH’s grandfather
  • Marvelous gold pocket watch from my grandfather, also a gift from my father during flush times and also given to me in my young adulthood because it was “too fancy”

Outside the jewelry box, we have several household decorations (paintings, statues, needlepoints) from both sets of DH’s grandparents, some of which we use and appreciate and some of which sit in the back of the closet but I can’t get rid of them. I also have a bunch of items that DH’s grandmother made for herself or her grandchildren. Those are so precious. When I wear one of the scarves or hats she made, I think of her all day long. When I put Burrito or Tamale into an article of clothing that she made for their father or one of his siblings, it’s like I can feel her reaching across time and space to embrace them.

I like to tell myself that if my house were burning down, I’d grab the babies and run, and regret losing nothing else. Enough of our photos are backed up into the cloud that I could afford to lose the rest, and anything else is just stuff and can be replaced. But, truth be told, I would be terribly sad to lose some of those heirlooms.

Strangely, I think I will also be rather sad when the time comes to finish those Thin Mints.

What heirlooms, whether valuable or just sentimental, do you own?

14 Responses to “Thoughtful Thursday: Heirlooms”

  1. Elana Kahn Says:

    My father owned a roll-top desk which my mom gave to me when we moved into our new house (in 2008). We’re also supposed to be getting my grandparents’ silver, but that hasn’t happened yet (and we haven’t had a need for it either). In terms of sentimental value, I have a small yellow post it note with something my father wrote to me back in high school (reminding me of a doctor’s appointment). It’s not much, but it’s in his handwriting and shows his love for me…

  2. Rebecca Says:

    I have my dad’s St Christopher. It went into the river with him but was around his neck when his body was recovered. For about 2 months after his death I didn’t take it off. He wore it constantly.

    I also have 2 rings, one belonging to my paternal grandmother and one belonging to my maternal grandmother 🙂

  3. Michele Says:

    Peter’s paternal grandmother left me a gorgeous pearl ring, handmade for her by her brother-in-law who was a jeweler. It’s gorgeous. I also inherited a cross from my mother, pearl earrings/necklace from Peter’s maternal grandmother, and his mom gave me a necklace that belonged to her great-great grandmother.

    I look forward to passing down my mother’s ring and the pendant that was made especially for me by Barb.

  4. strongblonde Says:

    my family is strange. they don’t really pass stuff down. they also don’t have nice stuff. they’d rather go through 20 dining room tables in a lifetime than have one nice piece of furniture. our tastes are very different, anyway…so i’m not sure what i would really want as far as heirlooms go.

    i think the most “heirloom” thing we have right now is b’s grandfather’s college ring. it’s the same school that we attended, so that makes it even more special.

    i’m much more sentimental about stuff from B. i have little cards that he made me early in our relationship, little things that he bought for me, ticket stubs, etc…. i’m hopeful that our kids might like them someday. 🙂

  5. a Says:

    If there’s one thing I actually collect, I guess it would be family heirlooms. I have all kinds of great stuff – I took my grandparents’ china cabinet and buffet when my aunt sold the house. She said “You get everything in them too” – which included some Baccarat and Waterford crystal and my grandmother’s china. I have a diamond ring from my other aunt, along with a fantastic set of beads. I have the smiley face glasses my other grandmother always served our drinks in. I have my dad’s dresser, his WWII Coast Guard photo album and letters he wrote to his sister, I have some of my mom’s jewelry, family photos, a mantel clock, a rocking chair my grandmother found in the alley and restored. My aunt was an artist, so I have many paintings. My BIL is a photographer, so I have many of his photos. Yep, I am a collector of heirlooms.

    When my husband’s grandmother had to move into a nursing home, his parents essentially left him out of the division of her property. But, he is not dumb, so he asked his grandmother about a couple things, and she said he could have them. So his sisters are cranky about the handmade quilt and the photo collage that he ended up with. I was hoping that they would pass on some sort of meaningful jewelry to my daughter, but all of my husband’s sisters felt they had the greatest claim, so I left during the dividing process. Ah well, that’s my husband’s responsibility anyway.

    I love heirlooms!

  6. St. Elsewhere Says:

    It must have felt so strange to be going through her stuff. Strange and memory-arousing…

    My MIL gave me earrings and a gold bracelet that she received at her wedding. She has also indicated another piece of jewellery that I am to receive at some future date.

    My parents and aunts have given me lots of things, but they are not heirloom-esque (something passing through generations).

    Oh, but I created and am still adding to something I will give to my grandchildren! My piggy-bank! I have an earthen piggy bank in which I put coins from time to time. I figure that by the time my grandkids are around, this currency would have changed form.

  7. BB Says:

    My maternal grandmother passed on a set of diamond earings – not really super old, but something she has used, so they are precious! My paternal side – doesn’t look like they value anything of the heirloom kinds!

    My husband just picked up a quilt he used to use as a kid, which was actually passed on from his grandparents to him.

    So, I don’t think we have any super old/fancy heirlooms, but I do like to hold on to things… so they might just become heirlooms after me! 😛

  8. You do have some very cool heirlooms, but I think the Thin Mints would be my favorite, even over a diamond ring. Crazy, I know.

    I can’t think of any heirlooms I have. I suppose there will be some someday, but I’m in no hurry. There was talk recently about what heirlooms I’d like to safeguard for Tessa.


  9. Ernessa Says:

    As of this moment I have no family heirlooms. Because of travel and the like, I’ve never been one to keep stuff. However, I did inherit a piano from a great aunt when I was in high school. It’s still in my family home, and I often wonder how I will go about laying claim to it with my stepmother after my father dies. My great aunt didn’t leave a will, but it was given to me by spoken agreement, since I happened to be taking a piano class at the time. I would love to secure it for my own daughter, but getting heirlooms back after 16 years can be a rather tricky business, so we’ll see.

  10. SamIAm Says:

    “Go fuck yourself, March.”
    I couldn’t agree more.

  11. Cat Says:

    I have part of the dining room set we grew up with: table, chairs, buffet. The hutch is still at my mother’s because that’s what she got when my parents divorced. I also have the china set. All of that is both valuable and sentimental.

    From my grandparents’ house I have a small ceramic container shaped like a strawberry that my grandma always used to serve her homemade strawberry jam in. I also have a little paper doll I made for her that she kept in her living room. I’m sure it has no value to anyone else but me.

    I also have my dad’s roll top desk. DH wants to get rid of it because it’s huge, but I love it. It needs some repairs done, but it’s a fantastic desk and always makes me think of my dad.

  12. Unfortunately, we have way too many heirlooms, as both my MIL and FIL passed away a number of years ago and my mom passed away last November. Heirlooms from DH’s side include crystal, silverware (both carefully stored away in boxes – way too ‘bourgeois’ to use), two couches my mom reupholstered and we use daily (and are now include nice baby milk stains etc), china (some we use daily, some is still packed away), books, paintings (some hanging on our walls, others packed away for lack of wall space) and jewelry (one of my MIL’s rings I wear daily). Then I got all my mother’s earrings (as my sister doesn’t have pierced ears), some necklaces, rings, bracelets and watches – some are way to fancy to wear, most of the rings I still have to have resized, but other items I try to wear on a regular basis – during the 2WW of IVF#2 I made sure I was wearing one of her jewelry items each day. Also got a few scarves, hats and handbags.

  13. jill Says:

    Awww the thin mints 😦 It’s so odd the emotion we assign to objects when it comes to loss…

    I have my step-great-grandmother’s diamond ring. It was passed from her to my paternal grandmother (to whom I am very close) and would be extremely sad to lose it. Sometimes I check on it just to make sure it’s still there. I also have my (step)dad’s first wedding band – my mom gave my sisters and I each a band of his about a month after he died. I also used to have my mom’s wedding band to my biological dad but I have no idea where that is and feel a great deal of guilt over it.

    I also have 2 towels that I use frequently (but no one else is allowed to) that used to belong to my paternal grandmother. Yeah, towels. Bath towels. haha 🙂 I am very attached to them – they remind me of my childhood. I would be sad to lose them.

  14. Tara (TIMO) Says:

    Sorry for the late response. I inherited my Nana’s teacups when she and Grandpa downsized from their house to a condo. I remember playing with these as a child. Unfortunately this has caused my mom to think that I collect teacups so she buys me one for every holiday. I don’t collect them but I do cherish the ones Nana collected. I’d love to find/own the journals Grandpa wrote. He was an avid journaler, especially on vacation. They are a part of my family’s history but no one seems to know where they ended up after his death. Sadly, I can’t think of a single item I’d like from my father’s side of the family.

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