I adore old things. Books, candlesticks, linens, kitchenware, quilts. I especially cherish old things that once belonged to loved ones. I have many things in my home that would be considered vintage and antique to some. But to me they are tangible reminders of people who were and are special to me, and of the things they taught me. Having these things around me makes me feel like I have them around me.
My Mamaw was a bookworm. She was a strong influence on me and fostered my deep affection for the written word. When she passed and my father asked me what keepsake I’d like from her home, I only asked for a few of her books. They live in the bookshelves of our family room now, where I see them every day. They remind me of how she taught me that within the pages of a book is an entire world at my ready. A world that I may not otherwise ever visit, but that could be mine—all mine—when I allowed myself to get lost in the words. To this day, reading is about the only thing that truly allows me to escape.
My Granny—Jenny Wren as we called her, because of her love of birds—was a feisty woman who told me to go after whatever I wanted without guilt. And when things would get difficult, she’d whisper, “This too shall pass.” To this day, I can hear her in tough times telling me to press on, to go after my dreams. But she also taught me the importance of being present for family. Her aprons hang in my kitchen to remind me to take the time to feed my family—not just with food, but with my love and devotion. And I have her handwritten notes to me hanging in my daughter’s room. Her words of wisdom and promises of backrubs when next we meet teach my sweet Ava Wren that family is not just the four of us, but the many who came before.
There are so many other old things in our home. The cigar box that my mom filled with her baby shower wishes and congratulatory cards after my birth. My dad’s high school letter jacket and childhood baseball glove that my son drug home. (I am so proud to see a love of old things in him!) My great aunt’s knitting needles and state fair ribbons. My great grandmother’s hand sewn quilts.
I also find value in old things that once belonged to strangers. Old things have stories to tell; stories of who owned them and what they were used to accomplish. Yesterday was the first day that my husband and I have had to ourselves in quite some time and we went antiquing. We spent hours admiring old things and dreaming up the stories they could tell. I came across an old scale, and laughed as I told my husband how there is a photograph somewhere of my Granny weighing me as a chunky baby on a scale exactly like it. And just a moment later, as I climbed to the second story of the farmhouse to see what treasures awaited upstairs, I saw it. A sign that my Granny was with us. Literally, a sign. And I smiled. And I cried. But mostly I smiled.