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February 1st, 2004

Grandma’s Furniture

A Legacy in Wood, Glass, and Love

 
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When my mother died while I was in college, my grandmother became like a mother to me.

The matriarch of our large Italian family, Grandma was a strong person who dealt with many trials in her long life. I could talk to her, and she would always have some sage advice for me. But I also distinctly remember her as a “cool” Grandma who watched Oprah and always had a funny comment. Our family calls them “Nannyisms.”

She was probably best known
for her prize-winning sauce in a contest sponsored by Monte’s restaurant in Brooklyn. Ever since I was a little girl, I remember eating her delicious fried meatballs and homemade bread.

Grandma comes to my house
When my grandmother gave me her breakfront and dresser, I felt her presence come into in my home. These pieces had been in my grandparents’ Brooklyn brownstone and later in their condo in New Jersey.

Each piece takes on a life of its own.

The breakfront
My grandmother used the breakfront like a family CNN, to broadcast all of her news. Various pictures of the great-grandchildren, wedding invitations, and thank you cards for crocheted baby hats or wedding garters were displayed within the glass doors.

When my wedding invitation found its way to Grandma’s place of honor I was happy. Each time I’d visit I made sure to move our invitation so people could see it. I was proud and loved to tease Grandma if my invitation wasn’t out in front. Our wedding pictures eventually replaced the invitation in Grandma’s breakfront.

All of my grandmother’s glasses are still in the breakfront. She even gave me her “Marion glass” since I am her namesake.

The dresser
I told Grandma that when we had a child we would need the dresser, and that was more than enough incentive for her to give it to me. I put one of the beautiful crocheted doilies that my Grandma’s sister, Aunt Margaret, gave her on top.

I still remember it being in grandma’s bedroom right near the bed. That’s where she kept her statue of St. Jude, the patron of hopeless cases, whom she prayed to often and loudly so that I would find a husband. She was relentless.

Grandma kept all of her aprons in the dresser. I remember the little apron she made for me when I was a girl. I have a picture of me wearing an apron with Grandma on a college visit at Easter time making her famous meatballs.

Grandma
She kept all of her cards in the dresser too. Since we have such a big family, she never wanted to run out of cards for any occasion, always keeping a large batch on hand. I used to help her sort through the cards, finding just the right one for the upcoming event.

Number 29
My grandmother died this past May. I still feel her presence with me, and the dresser and the breakfront represent many memories.

On my wedding day she told me, “Well, it took you long enough!” Now I’m sure she’s looking over me saying, “Put that dresser to good use! Get moving, Marion!” She’s waiting somewhere for another great-grandchild, number 29 for her.

loved her family. I’m sad that Grandma won’t get to hold our child in her arms, but I’m glad that we have these pieces of Grandma’s, which store a whole lot more than just glasses or clothes. My husband and I now have these pieces of furniture as a legacy to add more memories to Grandma’s family.

 
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The Author : Marion Hayes

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