Week 8 Heirlooms

Week 8 Heirlooms

Objects. Things. That stuff that once belonged to a relative that got passed down officially or not to someone in the family. I have several. Some feel like museum pieces in that they have no utilitarian use in my home, they are almost like objects of art in that their value is not practical but sentimental or almost other worldly. Historic?

In my living room is my grandmother, Fannie Pooler Sammons’ desk. It is a beautiful piece of furniture and I’ve had it for as long as I can remember. It is a delicate ladies, drop leaf desk, covered in a veneer of birds eye maple. (I should post a photo of it here – where’s my “to do” list?) Fannie died in 1974 while I was in college. She’d been in a nursing home for sometime prior to her death and I’m not sure or don’t remember how the desk came into my parents’ possession – I’m assuming they had it before I did.

In my bedroom is a small 3-drawer dresser with a large, oval, elongated mirror that I have not been able to attach since I last moved. It belonged to my other grandmother, Sadie Joslyn Laforce. I have a very faded photo of her sitting in front of it. I believe it was handed down to her from her cousin, Gail Davey. I also have a side board that belonged to the Davey family. This dresser is also made of birds eye maple but a much lighter color than the desk.

In my kitchen, I have a colander that belonged to my mother. This item I use. It is probably stainless steel and I think may have originally fit inside a pot. It is large a bit bulky with two handles on the top sides of it. I like that it’s there and when I use it I think of my mother – Mildred May Laforce Sammons.

Once there was an heirloom I wanted more than anything. My mother’s brother, Art, had a wife name Virginia “Bird” Horning Laforce. She died suddenly – probably my first true life tragedy – during my sophomore year in college. After her death, my uncle quickly cleared out many of her belongings. I’d always assumed that his grief drove him to act in such a hasty fashion. Aunt Bird and I would regularly listen to an old Victrola record player she had. It was a tall, dark piece of furniture. The cover would open to reveal a turntable that had to be wound up in order to play the old 78 records that she stored in the bottom cabinet area of the piece. This is what it generally looked like:

Before I could ask for the player, my uncle got rid of it, I seem to remember he sold it. My heart was broken. That piece was something I shared with Aunt Bird and losing it felt like losing her over again. (I’m sad just writing this.) Heirlooms, those objects we connected with loved ones, have meaning and a connection to the people we cared about. I began writing this post, thinking it was a frivolous topic but now I realize it’s anything but.