Archives for posts with tag: heart

When you lose people you love, and we all do, most of us look for the pieces of them we have left. Photos, letters, recordings, the little things they loved. I have a few things of my husband’s and my son’s tucked away in a drawer by my bed. There are little things from my mother, father, grandparents around the house. Most of the time, the things are just there, but a lot of times seeing them warms my heart. They keep those loved ones close to me. That’s not to say I don’t have some of the same kinds of things around from family and friends who are still with me. I like to surround myself with pieces of my life.

One of the nicest things that happens is when you find a piece of the past unexpectedly. Once I found a piece of paper that was the last grocery list my husband wrote. I keep it tucked in my billfold. I guess it will wear out eventually, but it’s nice to know it’s there. I’ve got a trunk in my bedroom full of little treasures from my kids. The trunk belonged to my great-grandmother and was painted and decorated by my mother-in-law for a wedding present. I look in there every once in awhile and it’s like a bombardment of memories.

I tell people that one of the best things you can do for someone who loses a loved one is to share an old photo or memory of them. It’s like filling in a piece of the person they were. I found a box of slides in the bottom of a box last week. They were dated 1979. I must have taken them but don’t remember taking any slides. Maybe I put the wrong film in my camera or was just trying something new. I’m not sure I’d ever seen these pictures before. I realized they were from my son’s 4th birthday and took them to have prints made. We never knew what we were going to end up with in those days so some photos aren’t very good, some are almost too dark to see. There are a couple of my mother holding her youngest grandson, a month old at the time. I lightened them on the computer and they brought back her tenderness as she held that baby close to her. There’s another one, also very dark, of my sister holding her youngest, that same month old baby. So long ago, yet so close in my heart.

There are photos of my son that turn up from his friends now and then. They are good about posting them on his Facebook page, which we keep open. It’s good to see him alive and laughing. It fills in pieces of how he was when I wasn’t around. I keep a lot of things written about him and by him in a box for his daughter to have later when she wants to get to know him.

This holiday season, we all might think about finding some of the pieces for other people, reminders of loved ones. Yesterday, I got this picture of my son, seeing it for the first time, from a long ago slide. His daughter, the greatest gift he left us, just turned 4 and here he is at the same age. It makes me laugh and cry at the same time to see my little snotty nosed, goofy kid with his Wookie cake on his 4th birthday. It’s a piece of him recovered for my heart.

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When I got married, everyone decorated their first home in “early family.”  There was no style since you were just glad to have furniture of any kind.  My mother thought you should have accessories, so she helped us get some extra pieces to make it more than just a series of bare rooms.  The rest of our place was things we picked up in thrift stores –  we “antiqued” some pieces, the going thing at the time.  It was cute to have my mother’s first coffee table that I painted and a headboard that we covered in gold burlap and a paper lamp from Pier 1.  Young, funky and fun.

Through the years, we upgraded to furniture we liked and purchased mixed with more hand-me-downs from our families.  I got the desk that had been my maternal great-grandmother’s refinished by my paternal grandfather that had been in my room as a girl.  And I would find something on sale.  Or I would find an antique I liked at a shop or auction, mostly with my mother teaching me how to bid.  And I would buy paintings on a trip.  This didn’t happen overnight, but it was a never-ending accumulation.  When I down-sized, I gave away various items to my kids, but I replaced them with my mother’s things when she died.  And more things I found.


Somewhere in this mix through the years, I think my basic hoarding inclination took over.  It’s not that I mean to hoard furnishings, but I do hoard memories.

Anyone who comes in my house sees a lot of stuff.  I see a memory on every table, wall, available space.  There are paintings by artist friends, a couple by my mother, others from galleries and my parents.  There are photographs that need no explanation.  There are contemporary furnishings mixed with American, English and French antiques, Western and Greek sculptures mixed with carved wood bears.

Accessories include my great-grandmother’s coffee grinder, my grandmother’s cookie jar, my other grandmother’s little syrup jar, wooden elephants that my father brought back from Africa in World War II along with this statue of a man with a frog on his head that scared me to death when I was little.


I have clay heads my son made in high school and clay figures my grandkids made.  There is the huge Oklahoma map that was behind my father’s desk at work when I was a little girl.  On the shelf over my desk is one of my son’s lunch boxes from his collection and a mug we got at The Ugly Mug coffee house in Seattle.  There’s a collection of Edgar Allen Poe’s works that I used to read at my grandparents’ along with my father’s copy of “The Emerald City of Oz.”  And more books.

It goes on and on throughout the house.  I am beyond eclectic in style.  I can’t say “early family” anymore since I’m at the old end of that chain.  There is a memory that I need to shift every time I get ready to let go of something.  Some things aren’t so easy because I remember when I got them, who I was with, why I liked it.  It’s not that I never part with anything…I just tend to hang on.  And I’m not apologizing. I love everything I have around me or I would get rid of it.  I definitely live surrounded by warm memories.

And, I still need to clean out some things.  I’ve just learned there are still memories to come and I need to make room.

I guess my decorating style defies a professional decorating definition.  Let’s just say it’s personal.