Wednesday, November 18, 2015

My Granny's Chair


No matter where I live, how old I get, how rich or poor, sick or healthy, no matter how happy or tragic the events of my life may be, at the core of my being I know this:  I have been loved.  Deeply and unconditionally loved by two people in my life, and those people were my grannies.


My mother's mother was a gentle, beautiful, elegant creature who died suddenly when I was fifteen years old.  Although she lived next door to us for many years of my childhood, it is hard for me to remember much about her.  One thing I'll never forget is the way she would smile when she saw me and say, "Hello, Nan!" in a way that made me feel I was the most important person in the world to her.  And she's the one who told me, "Happiness is a choice.  Sometimes bad things happen, but you can decide either to be miserable about them or to be happy in spite of them.  It's all up to you, Nan."  I think of her all the time.

But today I am thinking of Mim, my father's mother.  For some strange reason, people in his family would begin, in adulthood, to call their parents by their first names.  In my recollection, Curt always called his mother Mildred, so in my babyhood I garbled that down to "Mim," and Mim is how she was known ever after.


Mim came from a large, solid Pennsylvania family.  Her mother was of Swiss descent, and her father's people were German, so she spoke with just a tinge of what she referred to as a "Pennsylvania Dutch" accent (even though none of them came from Holland, so okay...)  She also cursed in German, and as a child I picked up a smattering of colorful phrases from her that, thankfully, no one really knew how to translate.

So what does all that have to do with a chair?  Well....

Back in the '70's everyone was on a furniture refinishing craze.  Painted wood was considered intolerably old-fashioned, and people did a lot of stripping to restore wood pieces to their "natural" finish.  Mim and a couple of her sisters decided to try refinishing a child-sized, antique oak chair that one of them had picked up at some flea market.  They could see that the original wood finish was an attractive, dark stain...


So they went at it, stripping away at the gold paint, down to the turquoise paint, down to the red paint, down to the black... and then they said, " Ach du mein lieben Gott im sprechen sie Himmel ! " (at least I imagine it was something like that) and gave it up for a lost cause.


But, being veterans of the Great Depression, they couldn't discard a perfectly usable chair just because it was ruined, so they decided to give it to young Nan, thinking she might be able to do something with it.

Oh, I did something with it, alright:  I left it just as it was because I thought, with all their adorable, ineffectual interfering, they had actually managed to make the piece all the more beautiful.  I have cherished it, just as they left it, for many, many years, and now whenever I look at that chair, what I see are layers of time expressed in color.  And I remember those ladies, my granny and my great aunties, and even recall myself as a bright young thing.  I would not change one thing about that chair; it is memory made manifest.

A reminder that I have been loved.






For a list of all the great parties where this post has been shared, click here.



48 comments:

  1. What sweet memories you have! I love the chair. Give me a piece of furniture with a story to it every time.

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  2. It's simply beautiful! I love your story. I remember your Gramma that lived next door. Beautiful and elegant are perfect descriptions.

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    1. Thank you, Amie! I forgot you lived next door to her, too.

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    2. Ach du Gott mein lieben heilig Himmel ich! I mean "Amy!"

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  3. Perfect finish..and so in style too! I loved your story, and how beautiful is it that you have these wonderful memories to think of each time you look at your chair:) XO-Wendi@H2OBungalow

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    1. Isn't it funny? If only those ladies knew how fashionable their "failure" would be one day! I'm glad you enjoyed my story.

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  4. I love the chair and the story. You did good be leaving it as it was. Some things are perfect just the way they are!

    Thank you for linking up to the Holidays Celebration Link Party! Your post has been pinned to the party's Pinterest board (https://www.pinterest.com/pinteresab/holidays-celebration-2015/). Feel free to link up other posts too, and stay tuned for the features on Friday!

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  5. Thanks, Teresa. I appreciate your support!

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  6. I'll be the lone dissenter. Nice story, awful chair, LOL! My grandmother spoke German as a child growing up, too. I learned a poem and some insults (usually flung at my grandfather) from her. I think I'd try and see if we have better stripping chemicals on the market these days. Even if you sanded it down and painted it all one color, I think it would look better, although I understand your fondness for it the way it is.

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    1. Well, it's a thankless job, Shecki, but someone has to do it! I could try doing something with the old chair, but then it would just be a chair. LOL!

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  7. This is such a great post. I love it and the story! :)

    Thanks for joining Cooking and Crafting with J & J. Happy Thanksgiving!

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    1. Thank you, Jessica! I always appreciate your support.

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  8. There is so much beauty in the layers. Each layer has a story to tell. It has such beautiful vibrant colors as well.

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  9. Hi Nan, What a great story! I also was blessed to have 2 grandmothers that loved me unconditionally! What a blessing they were when they were alive and now their memories take us to some safe places. Happy Thanksgiving! Blessings, Janet

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    1. Janet, we have both been greatly blessed. Happy Thanksgiving to you, too.

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  10. Your post just made my day. I think about my Grandma all the time too. She was one special lady. Thank you so much for sharing your precious memories with us at Brag About It!
    ~Laurie

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    1. Thank you, Laurie, for your kind comment and for giving me the opportunity to share.

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  11. Wanted to pop over to let you know that I'll be featuring your touching post at our next Brag About It link party! Hope you will join us!
    ~Laurie
    @myhusbandhastoomanyhobbies.com

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    1. Thanks, Laurie! I'm so glad I discovered your blog and your party!

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  12. What a beautiful story...and a beautiful chair. I love sentimental things.

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    1. I'm glad you enjoyed it, Betty. Come visit again.

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  13. So sweet! I love how you left it just the way it is. Perfect! Have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

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    1. Thank you, Pam. I have much for which to be thankful.

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    1. Me, too. It resulted from a prompt to write about something vintage and/or treasured. I'm surprised I never thought to write about it before. Thanks so much for stopping by!

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  15. I loved reading this story this morning. Memories of the special ladies in my life was the whole reason I started my blog! There is really nothing like having a loving network around you as your grow up, I feel so lucky to have had that, now I just feel a little sad I never learnt to curse in German!! (I do know a little choice Spanish though to make up for it!)

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    1. I will have to check out your blog because it sounds like just the kind of thing I like. Somos las afortunadas, Julia -- we are the lucky ones.

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  16. Love the story, AND the chair. Thanks for sharing.

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  17. Nan,
    Popping over to thank you for linking up with us at Snickerdoodle Sunday! This is such a wonderful post!
    ~Laurie

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    1. I'm glad you enjoyed it, Laurie! I love the Snickerdoodle Sunday party. See you there!

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  18. That is a great post. Thanks for sharing a part of your life.

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    1. I'm so glad you enjoyed it. Thanks for stopping by!

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  19. Beautiful story and beautiful chair! Thank you for sharing with us at the Merry Monday Link Party!

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    1. Thanks for giving me the opportunity to share!

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  21. Oh my gosh - LOVE this. Sharing tonight on the Link Party!

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    1. I'm so happy to be featured at your party! Thank you! You will be seeing me again... :)

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  22. Stopping by from Sunday's Best Linkup. What a beautiful and touching post. I love the chair too. Thanks for joining the linkup. I hope you will share regularly.

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    1. Thank you, Rhonda, and you can count on me! I'm so glad I found your party.

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  23. What a great story! My family is Pennsylvania Dutch too. It's actually a term that refers to people who were German speaking from a particular area that settled in that Pennsylvania area. It has no connection to the Dutch, instead it's more likely the term came from the German, Deutsch. Thanks so much for sharing, it got me thinking about some of the great memories from my childhood. Also thanks for linking up to the Sunshine Life Link Up!

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    1. Well now I know! For the longest time I thought it meant we were Dutch, but research into the family tree disproved that -- all Swiss and German on that side. Lean, mean and clean, if you know what I mean, and I think you do! ;) Thanks for the clarification.

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