Monday, March 22, 2010

Meaning of Home

My Aunt Alma passed away recently. It was a sad time for the family, but also a time for us to come together and celebrate the life of a loved relative. I have an amazing family. I think it's easy to take that sentiment for granted, but I truly do have an amazing family. Their kindness, passions, and love have helped to form who I am and who I strive to be.

Aunts, uncles, cousins, and children have taken time out of their busy lives the past several weeks to be present and walk down memory lane together. Following my aunt's passing, several of us spent time at her home, which also used to be the home of my grandparents.

After my grandparents passed away several years ago, the once busy home became a quiet place for my aunt while she ventured out to family functions. Not having visited for several years, it was interesting to see how while nothing had really changed, everything seemed so different and small. When I visited on the day of her funeral, I was overwhelmed with its familiar scent. However, the typical everyday objects--magazines, clothing, kitchen implements--lay static where my aunt had left them before leaving her home. The same apple shaped cookie jar sat in the dining room, only it was empty and covered in a thin layer of dust. It was time to ready the house for sale.

Their home was always full of images of local flora and fauna, my grandmother's organ songs, beds dressed in linens trimmed with fine crocheted lace and afghans made by my grandmother, early pastel portraits created by my dad and uncle, and the scents of my grandmother's meals permeating the rooms. These are the things exposed to me at an early age that would influence who I was to become.

I suppose it seems natural that when it was time to clear out the house, I first found myself in the linen closet pulling out stacks of sweet smelling sheets, pillow cases, and embroidered finery. A sewing kit brimming with vintage buttons, spools of thread, in-process mending projects, and a lifetime supply of needles would come home with me for reinvention. Finally, my grandmothers Blue Willow china will find new life nourishing our guests the way it did for my family.

My fondest memories of my aunt and grandparents are synonymous with time spent at their home. I remember sitting on the porch feeding peanuts to the squirrels (from my fingertips), laughing with my older cousins, eating ourselves silly on holidays, loosing myself in the endless garden, playing with countless small animals my aunt kept for the children she taught, walking down to the park and into town, revealing the scenes on the china beneath my Sunday dinners, and spending the night sleeping on the softest sheets you'd ever dream of.

Since I don't have the opportunity to relive these memories with my aunt and grandparents, I am so grateful to have been able to recapture some priceless moments through their home and with my family. Now a few sentimental objects will help to create new memories of love, laughter, and home cooked meals with those whom I share my home with, and an ever welcome reminder of where I come from.

1 comment:

Karen Abbitt said...

Whitney - Thanks for the beautiful trip through the house. Your photos are amazing. I wish I could have been there with you all. I was recently thinking about the unique and special places you and I share in the family - the eldest and youngest of this generation. Please visit me when you are in Richmond. Love, Your Cousin, Karen