I walked into Ella’s room this am looking for Tom and I saw her vanity and her dresser. These were Piper’s and before that mine, and before that my Grandma Lucile’s.
It stopped me in my tracks. It felt so good to see these pieces of furniture here in my home living and being used by my stepdaughter. I loved that her room smelled like a teenager’s, but don’t tell her or Tom I said so. I even loved that her stuff was everywhere.
I don’t have a lot of my family pieces anymore, but what is special about this one is that it was mine, Piper’s and Ella’s. It was my probably my grandma’s wedding set from her marriage to my dad’s dad. The fact that it is white painted over mahogany because my father at age 14 or so decided to paint her bedroom set for a “present.” One can only imagine how that went down.
Sadly the bed had to go to the dump because PSU college housing infested it with bedbugs. But these remain, thank God, and I can watch another teenager grow up with them, throwing their belongings around willy-nilly, and generally not paying attention. Piper’s initials are carved into the top of the vanity, an act she did in middle school that displeases me still. That said, these pieces really need repainting at this point. But I can’t bring myself to do it. I love walking in there and seeing Ella’s room remind me of Piper’s room and my room. It makes my heart really happy.
FYI, the “curtain” hanging here is just a curtain turned sideways and tacked. I bought curtain rods and they sit alongside the closet to be installed when I can twist someone’s arm to do so. He much prefers to do things that are BIG than things that are small.
I also have Lucile’s desk. She was a 2nd grade teacher and a single mom (once my dad was about 14) of FIVE BOYS, two of whom grew up to be actual rockstars. She had to put up with all of their teenage crap and staying out all night and bad decisions.
She taught 2nd grade for like 35 years, and when she retired around 70 she promptly got stage BAD breast cancer. She’d get chemo treatments and then would jet off to Canada or the UK or New Zealand or Mexico or Scotland. She learned to do water colors and ballet and took creative writing. She was told by an obstetrician that she’d never have children. In her memoir-that she wrote for a creative writing class and my Uncle Jim (rest in peace) put together for family years later-she said that she wished she could walk in front of that Dr.’s office and parade her boys behind her like goslings. She got remarried in her 70s, despite cancer and her advanced age, and her husband Charles cheated at cards or Monopoly every time he played with me. I loved him anyway. Their marriage was short, because he died before she did. It was tough to see her light dim.
She was fiercely proud of her children and grandchildren and had a laugh I wish I could hear again. It was distinctly Fogerty, and many of her boys had it. My dad had it. It was this weezy kind of deep belly laugh that made you want to be part of whatever joy she was experiencing. OH I miss that Fogerty laugh coming from Grandma and my dad.
She was also an alcoholic. One of my most visceral memories is her with a gallon of Charles Krug wine, a 2L bottle of Sprite, and a box of ice. She’d happily drink her homemade wine coolers in the shade. Every now and then she’d yell me or Kris or Judy over to go fill the ice bucket, and we would. She gave us a hug, and then told us to get lost in her grandma way. She may have loved children and taught and raised them, but she knew when to take a breather. I’d like to think I have that one down, the loving children but understanding taking breaks, just like her. Just with less booze in it. My cousin Kris, my sister from another brother, was with her a lot in the end. She has much tougher stories than me, and those are hers.
I am really lucky to have memories of my grandmother in my home. I have memories of my mom’s mom that are even more intense, tinged with the sadness of losing her at seven years old, and the thoughts that happen when you’re young and you watch the people around you self-destruct in pain. But that is a story for another time. I am so grateful, grateful beyond words, that I live with things in my house that have stories in them.
What do you own that has a story? What does it bring up for you? Who do you remember? Who were you in the memory?
These can be wonderful journeys or painful ones. Sometimes we keep things with a story for reasons that are not pleasant. I challenge you to consider why. Why do you have the coffee table you bought with your ex or the dishes your mean family member gave you out of pity? If you’re living every day with something that doesn’t bring you joy, but actively makes you feel gross, consider finding a replacement.
For me, no matter how complicated my family of origin, I am tickled to have some of the things that belonged to Lucile Fogerty Loosli, Montana native, wild woman, mentor, teller of tales.
Here is one of the many water color paintings of hers I have in my possession. This one is on the wall in my bedroom and I see it every morning. My grandmother did this of the ranch I grew up on in Yaak, Montana. There is some artistic license, as we did not have a water tower or windmill, but the barns are dead on accurate. It makes my heart feel happy just looking at it when I wake up.