Sunday, May 1, 2016
This traveling trunk came from my Teal grandparent's home, although when I first met it, the trunk had been passed down to their youngest daughter, Lela. Almost 50 years ago, she saw some work I had done on a smaller trunk that had been given to me and asked me if I could "make hers pretty." The trunk was already travel worn and weary by then so that was a tall order for someone who knew little about working with the rusted metal corners. Antiquing was in vogue then so she wanted me to antique the trunk with a base color of pink! Cringing a bit at her color choice, I agreed to work on it. Years passed, and Lela died. Since her only son was stillborn and no one else wanted it, the trunk escaped being thrown away and came to me. That was early 1994. Our family had just returned from living in Indonesia, moved to the Houston area, and started a business. We had 3 grown sons and a very busy family life. The trunk sat for many years.
Now our sons are married, we have 5 granddaughters, and another grandbaby on the way. We are selling this house to move to one we have bought to share with our youngest son and his family. In the process of cleaning and clearing, we have passed on or given away many family things that have stories. The trunk is big and in ill repair, and at first, no one wanted to take it home with them. But this week, it will go to our oldest son who is a very talented artist and craftsman. If anyone can make this old trunk look like the treasure it is, he can. Because it is a treasure. There are so many stories it could tell.
I can wish that I had paid enough attention years ago to ask the questions I now have. Questions such as "who was the original owner of the trunk?" It could have belonged to either of my grandparents because of the times in which they lived. Thomas Jefferson Teal was born in 1877. Ida Mayfield Teal was 7 years older, born in 1870, making their young adult years the time when this barrel stave type trunk became popular for traveling. But it could also have belonged to their families. I know very little about these ancestors. So it is too late to ask the questions. I can only know that the trunk may look empty but that it carries a world of stories inside.
I can't wait to see what it looks like after my son imagines the stories.
Sunday, March 27, 2016
Nora holds a basket that is a small picture of this old and familiar coupled with new experience. She is carrying her happily retrieved eggs in the Easter basket that was mine when I was her age! Something that was loved and passed down and kept. Our Easter traditions are a bigger picture of that for me, and of course so much more important. I am grateful for old stories and new ones, and most of all for the most powerful gift and story of all time, of Jesus' life and death and resurrection.
Sunday, March 13, 2016
Remarkable, since he and his wife delivered it to me in a taxi. Remarkable because I had no grandchildren at that time. Maybe I anticipated the sweet fact that I would eventually have 5 granddaughters.
This was never a house for grownups to have fun decorating. It was to play with, to imagine with, to wonder at. And the little girls growing up in our family plus a number of visiting children have done just that. I love that, and I was very fond of this doll house. I will remain so, since it was relocated to my oldest son and his wife's garage. Fitting, because many years after our family left the original house, it became a place for celebrations and they were married in the front parlor of the house we loved and lived in for a short time. In fact, the room where my son's bride dressed was his bedroom when he was 13! I hope that they will enjoy having it to help tell their story as someday they become grandparents themselves.
Another exercise in letting go and holding on! Another way to tell our story.
Friday, December 26, 2014
Sometimes, family story is as simple as looking at what has been kept and how it is used today. On Christmas Eve 2014, Nora finds joy in this stuffed Santa who wiggles his head while music tinkles "Santa Claus is Coming Town!" This Santa made her Daddy giggle when he was her age, and through the years perched on various bookshelves, stair steps, and kitchen counters in many different homes through our years of moving often. He is one of the beloved Christmas decorations we pull out of a bin when we happily begin dressing our home for Christmas every year.
An even older story comes from the wooden high chair where Nora and Santa are playing. It is also where she joined our family yesterday for her first Christmas dinner at Grandma and Papa Terrell's old oak table. The high chair, circa 1941, used by my sister in the mid 40's, all of our sons, including Nora's Daddy, and our granddaughters as they arrived and shared meals at our house. The worn spindled back, scuffed footrest, and dented tray hold stories of 4 generations (5 if you count my grandparents, who without doubt frequently joined Mother and Daddy for mealtime). That is a great deal of joy!
Thursday, December 4, 2014
Recently a group of friends gathered for a meal and story sharing. We each told a story of a Christmas remembered. How valuable it is to hear each others' stories! Most of the stories were fond memories of a childhood Christmas experience. So much of our family preparation for and pleasure in Christmas includes ways we have done it before - stockings, and where they are hung, manger scenes and where they are placed, tree decorations, taken out of the box one by one with memories of each, carols around the piano, lots of family around for help and hugs, and cookies baked from recipes so old they are spattered and yellow.
I recounted the tale of our first married Christmas, when Joe and I were far from family and were beginning our own Christmas traditions, starting from scratch for Christmas decorations. I told part of this story in a previous post. Our First Christmas
In our conversation and shared storytime that recent evening, I also told of disappointment (we would have to go back to Texas the first of the year), of grief due to the death of my beloved grandfather and the fact we could not leave in time to drive back to the funeral, of uncertainty for what the future held, and some of the ways those beginning traditions and stories have played out in our lives. Since that first Oregon Christmas, except for the Christmases we celebrated while living in Indonesia, we have always had some of the decorations for our tree that hung on it the year before. Those years from 1987 to 1991, all of our Christmas decorations including family stockings were mistakenly sent to storage when our overseas shipment was packed in California! That was one of the first boxes I looked for when we got the storage shipment back in 1992!
Even though the beginning Parker family Christmas may have seemed like starting from scratch, it was not entirely. We each brought to our marriage a faith that had been nurtured in our families of origin that was the reason for celebrating Christmas anywhere, at all. The trimmings for the tree, our handmade gifts, the clever folded angels Joe cut from paper for me - all of those were not just traditions carried on from the past, they signified the reason for those traditions: the coming of God to be with us in the form of a human baby, to show us how to live and love. Fifty one years and many many Christmas candles and carols, evergreen trees and manger scenes, stockings and presents, boy grins and grandgirl giggles later, the traditions are precious, and the Christmas Story remains the same.
Thursday, November 6, 2014
In recent efforts of cleaning and clearing, I went through a box that contained things left behind by my mother. As I looked at papers and dates and tried to decide what needed to be thrown away or passed on to someone else, I found a number of things that my mother herself probably once held and decided what to do with, because the dates were from years when she was a child. I found myself thinking of the reasons first my grandmother and then my mother kept certain things. One little pink booklet came apart at the binding when I turned the pages, but all the pages contained glimpses of life many years ago. The booklet was titled Catalogue and Premium List of School and Community Fair, Bullard, Texas At the bottom of the cover was the location and date: Bullard School Grounds, November 10-11, 1922.
I was intrigued with the little book as I looked through the pages which listed sponsors and advertisements and the list of exhibits and competitions like Best pound of butter, Best bronze turkeys, Best dozen tea cakes, Best counterpane, Best tatting, and Best baby! Of most interest to me were 2 sections where pages were missing. Both times, there were penciled notes in my grandmother's handwriting that indicated numbers of items from the missing pages. My hunch is that these were categories in which some of her craft or some competition entered by a son who was a winner! Since my mother's brothers were only 4 and 1 that year, that would have been her oldest, Vinnon.
33 1/2 Best display potted flower (which won wallpaper, given by Huges, hermer? & Son Tyler, Texas - value $3.50.
79 Winner of Mule Rase (which won mds. (merchandise?) given by Adam Wall, Drug. Co., Tyler Texas - value $2.50)
80 Winner of Horse Rase (which won mds (merchandise?) given by Walsh Hdw (hardware?) Co. Tyler, Texas - value $2.50)
Then I saw that on the front of the booklet was printed in pencil in small neat letters: VINNON TERRELL. I looked again at the date. And I understood why my grandmother kept the book. I knew why my mother kept it. And why I will keep it and pass its story on. I put together the name and the date and remembered.
Vinnon was Ky and Clyde Terrell's firstborn son, born in 1909 so he was 13 years old in November, 1922. He was killed in a hunting accident on Christmas day of that year. He went hunting with a neighbor boy who got him back to that family's front porch where Vinnon scrawled a goodbye note to his mother and father. I have seen the bloodstained note and heard his story all of my life. In the same box I found pages of his handwriting and schoolwork. My grandmother kept these things and her memories of her first son. I never heard her whine or complain or bewail his loss, but I heard the story of the way his short life blessed her. She knew raw grief then, and in many other ways later in her life but when I think of her I think of generosity and faith, of love and nurturing, of courage and determination. And that she always grew flowers. I am glad you won the fair prize for that, Grandma!