Wednesday, May 13, 2009

My birthright



Or at least a part of it. The rocking chair originally belonged to my great-grandmother, four generations of babies were rocked and cared for in that chair. My grandmother made both the cushion on the seat and the pillow in the back. She also painted the canvases behind the chair. But then we get to some of the interesting things. Sure looks like a canopic jar, right in front, doesn't it? (actually, its only a model) And, yes, that is a scarab, off to the side. At some point, someone tried printed the carved marks on the bottom, there are remains of ink, visible. You can't really tell from the photo, but the chain between them is a belly dancers coin belt. In the bowl are copper measuring cups, and an amazing cleaver. My sister and I found a large collection of cleavers and large scissors. None of them had been well cared for or stored properly. My aunts wanted to throw them away, because they looked dangerous. Well, yes, they are. I went through the collection, hefting each one. This one felt "right" in my hand, so I took it home. When I finally got the blade clean, I found that the steel was blue, not silvery. It has a stamp in Polish and a crown. So now I'm wondering-just how old is this cleaver, and where did it come from? Not in the picture is the amazing bedroom furniture, the effects of which, on the atmosphere of the bedroom require a blogpost of its very own, the copious amounts of costume jewelry (my grandmother seemed to believe that "the smaller the woman, the larger the jewelry"), photographs and every document imaginable, that might have had anything to do with the family. (the documents paint an even more interesting family than I had known about. For example, my great-grandfather, on my grandfathers side, had three wives, in succession, all of whom had the same name. Was he worried about his memory?)
But the most important thing that I have received is not visible. That would be the completely loving and civilized manner of everyone in the family. We've lost our matriarch, but not our sense of family. The distribution of my grandmothers belongings was done in such a way that no one felt slighted, or a need to be "grabby" so as not to be left out. The whole effect has been a testament to whom we all are and from whom we've sprung. I am now, at age not-quite-50 the eldest in my particular line of this family (that's what happens when your mother dies young), and while I would have preferred to not have to step into this role so young, I have remarkable role models. I hope to do them proud.


7 comments:

The Scribbler said...

What are the copper tube-like things in the bowl?

Lavanah said...

Those are the measuring cups. It took me a full week to get them polished! Among the items not in the photograph is a copper samovar. One of these days, I will polish that, too, but I am not really looking forward to the job. There was also a collection of brass (or bronze, not sure yet) pins, commemorating fasnacht in Basel in the late 1920's and early 1930's. I know my grandmother wasn't there then, so finding out how she got them is another mystery to solve.

Rufus Opus said...

Awesome. Your family has Grace, and that's beautiful.

My Gal said...

I have great faith that you will continue the legacy with grace and wisdom. The material "things" are beautiful, but I am most impressed with the lack of angst in which they were distributed. That has a definate air of panache :)

May the wisdom of the ages be at your fingertips!

Lavanah said...

My Gal-your last line in your comment will be the perfect lead in line for a post about the bedroom furniture!

Jennifer said...

Hi Lavanah,

I'm sorry about your grandmother. But it's nice that this event has brought your family together. My husband's grandmother lived to be 100(!!) and she left behind many interesting artifacts of her century on earth. Nothing of monetary value, really, but definitely pieces of family history that were immensely valuable to my husband.

Congratulations on becoming a matriarch! I think that's a cool title to have. It's like being a "grand dame."

Jennifer

WitchDoctorJoe said...

I Looooooove the bowl!!! I recognize it, it's a Munisina isn't it!!! Nice.

You can mix a lot of magic in a bowl like that...