Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Family Ties

Last week, in the midst of the birthday extravaganza, I took a break from my emoting and read a really sweet post - Two Aprons - by Sarah at In the Midst of It. It got my mind spinning about things that make me feel tied to my grandmothers.

My dad's mom, Memaw, lives in Houston. She has been a faithful wife and mother for 53 years. One of these days I'll write about the gracious way she treats and serves my grandfather, and vice versa. They are an old-fashioned love story. My Memaw has a sense of elegance that I've admired since I was a child. There is style in everything she does. For example, Memaw used to take our Christmas presents to Neiman Marcus to have them wrapped with exceptional beauty. I can remember every square inch of every house she's lived in since I was itty bitty, what each one smelled like, and what interesting decorations, artifacts, and accents were where. To this day, I still love looking at all her things and how they're arranged, wondering what the story is behind each one. She's always kept a mirrored vanity tray with neat, old perfume bottles sitting on top. It's the kind of thing little girls love to play with. When we were children, Memaw would serve my sister and me strawberries and powdered sugar out of blue and white porcelain bowls on the patio. I crave that every year when it gets warm, but I couldn't tell you the last time I had it.

During my middle school years, Pappaw bought Memaw a horse. She was a quarter horse named Fancy, but they were sweet enough to let a 12-year-old tomboy rename her Nike. Memaw would pick me up from volleyball practice in her Mustang convertible and we would drive down the street to the stable. We would spend hours fussing over that horse and riding together. I have such unique and wonderful memories of that season.

By the time sweet sixteen rolled around, I had outgrown the saddle and was eager to take the wheel. Like many 16-year-olds, I wanted to spend 98% of my time with my friends and/or boyfriend. I regret that I did not leave much room for riding or for my grandparents. The night of my sixteenth birthday, our whole family walked out of my favorite restaurant and sitting there at the entrance was Memaw's Aggie-maroon, 1987 5.0 GT Mustang convertible - top down with a big red bow on it. I was amazed. She gave me her car! So the equine sharing continued well into college years where I got to fulfill a childhood dream of taking that shiny, gorgeous, maroon Mustang to the Mecca of Maroon - Texas A&M University.

I drove the car until I was about 21. She was so hard to give up. I had countless childhood memories with my grandparents in it. It represented my grandmother's style (she was obviously a very cool grandmother) and lavish kindness. It was something we shared, something we had in common.

After Curtis put a diamond ring on my finger and it came time for me to pick out my china, I was immediately drawn to the same pattern my grandmother has. It was a no-brainer. I never even considered anything else. For some reason this pattern had some serious longevity. 50 years! Soon after my wedding they were discontinued. Even though it's something as simple as china, I thank God for the opportunity to connect with my grandmother in this way. It's not that I call her on the phone to talk about our plates. But every morning when I open up my cabinets to retrieve a blue and white tea cup and saucer, I get a good dose of joy seeing it all in there. I know Memaw saw the same Oriental pattern that morning in her cabinets too.

Her plates are well-worn after 35 years. Mine still look new in comparison. I guess you could say it's a goal of mine to have my china look like hers one day. Of course, not as much for the style as for the symbolism. That will mean that Curtis and I have made it. That we endured the heartbreaks and celebrated the joys of an entire lifetime together. That we raised our children as a family intact. And one day, after my grandmother passes her china down to me, and our combined collection is passed down to my granddaughter or granddaughter-in-law, perhaps we will have the privilege of leaving this legacy together.


BooMama said...

Amanda - This post is beautiful. Just beautiful...reminded me so much of conversations I've had with my friend EK. My sister shares this china pattern with you and your grandmother - it's lovely.

Big Mama said...

I loved reading your memories about your grandparents. Aren't we blessed to have grandparents that loved us so much?

And I may be a little jealous that you got to drive around campus in a maroon mustang...not that it helped you find a parking place, but at least you looked good.

schisler said...

My 2 sisters and I adored eating strawberries & powdered sugar. We would sometimes go out to the farmer's market in Hempstead (Di'iorios, I believe it's called) which had the biggest strawberries I've ever seen. They sell them in large styrofoam cups. Simple pleasures are the best, aren't they?

Sunni said...

I love your china. I've appreciated it so many times, but I'm not sure I've ever told you!

Also, in response to the Gymboree post--that was such a fun party! Ava really enjoyed herself--I think she was really kind of mad she had to leave. And Jackson was adorable & so HAPPY to be one!

AKat said...

Amanda, your china pattern is very pretty. What a sweet read.

su said...

Amanda, I loved this post. Better late than never. You had linked it because of the china. I am a grandma (actually a grammy) of a one year old and I just loved the image of your Memaw loving you so much. And giving you a Mustang. It kind of opened a window for me to think that I get to love my grandson like that. Don't know if that makes sense but thanks anyway!

Cindy-Still His Girl said...

Beautiful post. I love to read people's childhood memories. You did a beautiful job. It makes me rethink not owning china. But how does one get china without getting married again? Hmm...

And your dishes are lovely!!

Patty said...

What a beautiful post! Great memories. How fun to have had her maroon mustang! Thank you for sharing with us today. It brought back memories of my grandmother. She and I had a wonderful time together, and I had the privilege of caring for her while she was sick with cancer. She was a strong lady and taught me so much through her sickness. She never complained about the pain she was in but she told everybody about Jesus. Thank you! :o)