Wednesday, November 6, 2013

The Meaning of Stuff 
click image for source

I always associated pearls with my grandmother.
Not sure why.
It wasn't as though she was always seen sporting beautiful strands of pearls but she did have a lovely pearl engagement ring. It seemed to suit her delicate fingers and the softness of her kind spirit.

She passed away when I was a teenager.
Too early.
I do have wonderful memories...
and the odd sentimental object that I have from her
still garners a smile from me when I pick it up or see it in my home.

Every summer I fill her fern stand with begonias.
It sits in front of the window on our deck in a spot where the rain will not damage it in any way.
We admire the begonias all summer long but most importantly I think of the fern stand,
where it comes from and the person that it belonged to before me... my grandmother.

It is all stuff.
I know that.
But I think that this stuff holds memories.
Tiny reminders of what once was.

My daughter and I took a quick road trip over the weekend so that we could visit her grandmother and step-grandmother on her father's side.
They are both living in their own homes.
They are both slipping into a world of lost memories and confused states of understanding.

As I cooked meals, put away dishes, picked up odds and ends I found myself studying the various items spread around the rooms in both homes.
Items that help define the lives of these two different women.

In one home,
scrapbooks filled with photos, pamphlets and memorabilia reveal the life of a Canadian opera star.
Performances at Carnegie Hall and opera houses in cities such as Barcelona, Munich and Berlin, to name just a few.

Framed posters dating back to the 1950's line the upstairs hallway while black and white photos in gold gilt frames expose a young beautiful woman in operatic costume.

And all the while, she sits, unaware that this was her life.
She admires the lady in the photos and acknowledges her beauty but doesn't recognize herself.

Not until...
the music plays.
Then a glimmer of the woman that once was... comes to the surface
and perhaps a door temporarily opens to allow those memories to flow back in.

In the other home,

lovely Danish blue and white china acknowledge the heritage of its owner.
The colour on the living room walls may give a glimpse into her character.

A collection of skis by the door confirm a love of the outdoors.
Perhaps this does not necessarily identify to a visitor that she was a successful ski racer and member of the Canadian National Ski team
but we all know.

Much like the other home,
newspaper clippings, photos and pamphlets
tell us much about the life lived and shared within the walls of this beautiful heritage home.

When I close my eyes and shut out the voices around me I hear faint traces of the various committee members that met within these walls to make plans, set goals and take action to save forests and streams across the province.
Write-ups in newspapers confirm the many environmental awards and accolades granted her.

And I giggle to myself when I reflect on the time she tied herself to a beautiful old tree on the main street that was tagged for cutting.

Yes, she was a mighty leader, well-read, knowledgeable and passionate about all that she did.
She lived life in the moment.

She still remembers many of those events in her life.
But I do believe it is getting harder to "live" in the moment.

And what about all that "stuff".
Does it ignite a spark that transports either of them back in time to those special moments in their life?
Does your "stuff" do that for you?

Confused? I guess I am taking liberty as a blogger to write my own way into meaning.
Not sure I have done that.

Still left with a lot of questions but I seem to be looking at my own "stuff" through a slightly adjusted lens.
I am not planning on collecting more "stuff" but certainly the memories.
How about you?

I am joining Savvy Southern Style for Wow Us Wednesday


  1. Donna what a lovely post!! Such fond memories.

  2. Oh what a beautiful post!! you have some amazing people in your life and I love how you compared their homes. Both very different, but "their stuff" definately tells their story. Thanks for sharing your thoughts with us.....I enjoyed it very much!

  3. Donna this post is amazing. First of all, I can't tell you how much I enjoyed the description of your grandmothers and their unique contributions to the world. What strong, capable, talented women. And you've captured my sentiments exactly when it comes to our "stuff". Now that I'm moving and having to examine and let go of various items I'm discovering the power of memories....
    I loved this post and I'm so glad your grandmothers are blessed to have such sensitive, loving women take care of them. You and your daughter are gems.
    Great writing my friend!

  4. Beautiful tribute to two beautiful women. It's there to help you to help them to remember who they are.

  5. Your post really got me thinking. I guess I collect a lot of stuff, but I attach them to memories. I like when I remember how and when I got each items I collect and most of the things I collect are linked to the past, mine or my family's someway or an other... Not sure that makes sense either...

  6. Donna, this was a lovely post. I love reading your thoughts & descriptions of these two very different women. You are blessed to still have them in your life. I think their "stuff" defines them & I'm sure, on some level, they do get transported back in time once something sparks their memories.

  7. Your daughter's grandmothers, (your mother-in-laws) sound like incredibly inspiring women, I really enjoyed reading about them. I have no parents or grandparents left and I've never been married, but I have many pieces belonging to my mother and her mother, and I cherish them. Not so much because of memories, but because they once used them and cherished them, themselves, and I like knowing that they have lasted for years and years.
    It's stuff, but it's stuff I love, I just don't know who will want it all when I'm gone, I have no child to create new memories with.
    (I think my comment sounds slightly melancholy, but it's really not meant to be !)

  8. beautiful post Donna...and beautiful pictures!!! and so true....I am attached to stuff too...all sentimental!

  9. We all need a pensieve from Harry Potter!

  10. You certainly have very interesting grandmothers, the kind that you could have sat and chatted with for a long time when they were younger. It is very sad when these wonderful vibrant people lose their memories...I only saw my own grandmother one time when she was in that state and it was heartbreaking, she didn't know her own children even.
    Is the photo of the living room your grandmother's house by any chance? I love it, it's very cozy and warm, very homey but beautiful.
    Have a good weekend! Cindy

  11. Such a beautiful and thought provoking post. As an avid collector, I love stuff for the wonderful memories that they hold.
    It somehow keeps me grounded and connected to the past.
    New follower,

  12. I loved every word of this post! Such fascinating women and a proud legacy for your daughter. When all other memory was gone, my mom remembered music. When she could no longer form words, she whistled the tunes. My home is morphing into something that reflects my childhood memories. It might mean I'm going dotty or it just may mean I like all those great memories.

  13. THE MEANING OF STUFF is a terrific essay and wonderful tribute to two remarkable women /grandmothers. I enjoyed reading it very much!
    Speaking of grandmothers, I remember you mentioning your mom a few years ago--that she had joined FB. Is she still living on Raglan St. down by the lake? I think of her every time my father and I pass by when I'm rolling him in his wheelchair from Sunset Manor to Sunset Point and back. Love Bardy


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