Friday, March 2, 2012
The Teapot on the Lace Tablecloth
When I write about growing up in the country alongside three homes all full of relatives I am writing about my mother's side of the family. Her parents owned the barns, sheds,rambling fields and pastures surrounding their farmhouse. They had six daughters. A son died at birth. After their family grew up, my grandparents moved from the farmhouse into a smaller home they'd built on the property. My parents built a home on one side of them; another cousin's family built a home on the other side. In the farmhouse was yet another cousin and her family so needless to say, we were surrounded by family.
We celebrated holidays and birthdays together. We shared suppers outside in the summer under my aunt's pine trees. After we ate, the little kids would sometimes play baseball. We'd alternate homes on Sunday evenings for supper during the fall and winter. For awhile my mother, her sisters, and their mother would get together one night a week to work on little projects. They called it their Busy Fingers Club. We were lucky growing up on that country road. We understood the meaning of family. At least one side of the family.
My father's side was a different story. Their home set back on a curve down yet another country road not far from where we lived. He had 3 brothers. His dad was a cook at the area psychiatric hospital. Two of his brothers also worked there. The third brother worked in Washington. I don't know what he did. I only remember bits and pieces of going to his funeral. I have no clue why we didn't visit my father's parents very often. I do remember his father sitting in a chair in a front parlor. My father looked just like him. The one memory I do have of his mother is a vivid one.
My older brother and I had gone with our father to visit them. I'm certain it was a Sunday morning. It must have been in the summertime because a window was wide open and the curtains were blowing. I could smell flowers as we walked up the front steps and through the front door. My father and brother were ahead of me. As I was walking through the dining room, I was swallowed up in a warm embrace. It was my grandmother. She smelled like a grandmother-all warm and safe and loving. She wore black shoes that tied up the front. An apron that went over her head and tied in the back covered up what she was wearing. I remember hair combs and wrinkled hands and thinking I'd like a cup of tea from the beautiful teapot sitting on the dining room table covered by a beautiful lace tablecloth. But I can't remember her face. I can't remember if I ever did have a cup of tea from that teapot-which now sits in my home in my dining room.
All families have their quirks. Some remain unexplained. I do know I wish I'd gotten to know that grandmother. I bet we would have had tea parties while sitting at the dining room table covered by a beautiful lace tablecloth with a breeze coming through the windows.