31 March 2008

Style Remembered: The Perfect Honor

People keep asking - which is very nice of them - how my Mom-Mom's services were on Friday.
"Wonderful," I find myself saying. A strange thing, I suppose, to say that memorial services were wonderful, but they were. All of our family - all 5 of her children, 15 grandchildren, and several great-grandchildren (of 13), along with a few of her nieces and nephews - was together for the first time in quite a while. The room filled out with her Alpha Chi Omega sisters, golf buddies, bridge partners, and friends from way back when.
We spoke (yup, I managed it), sang, listened (to my littlest cousin, who's not so little anymore, play Fuer Elise), prayed, and cried.
Then we had lunch.
Then we hit her apartment.
What started as H and I swinging by to see if there was anything we wanted to keep as memories ended up as the whole family laughing, sharing, trading, and honoring my grandparents. The hottest negotiated items? Her hats.
Kept lovingly in John Wanamaker* hat boxes, I never saw a single one of them on Mom-Mom's head. By the time I remember her, she'd emancipated herself from hats and gloves and donned slacks. My cousins and I tried them all on with cries of, "Oh, that's perfect on you, you have to take that one." We may never wear the pillboxes, but we have them (though I'm determined to find an occasion to don the cream wool topper now sitting on H's dresser).
We all attempted to slip on the delicate white kid leather opera gloves with sweet little pearl buttons at the wrist. They don't fit anyone's contemporary hands, but I have them safe and sound, and will find out how to preserve them best. Most of the rest of the gloves ended up in my care (I'm the romantic, impractical one of the bunch). Some I'll wear, and some I'll keep for The Bean.
Her purses lay neatly on the bed, just begging for each of us to take one home. I ended up with 2 amazing frame bags and 2 clutches. I have her opera glasses, which she let me use when she took me to the symphony. Each of us has handkerchiefs, a scarf here and there, and most of us took some linens, some handmade by her Irish American mother (holding Mom-Mom in the picture, at right).
My sister is storing what we think was her wedding night negligée. My aunt has her wedding dress, to be kept and shared around as we each want to hold onto it for a while.
We each have little memories of this and that - very few of them from the articles themselves - but we all now have a teensy piece of her we can wear for a special event, or put on a bureau or nightstand, displaying it with pride and sweetness.
I'm fortunate I can now wear something of hers every day to honor her and remember her.
*Strangely enough, my other grandmother worked at the flagship Wanamaker's. It's a lovely little connection between two of the most important women in my life.


Carrie M said...

I have little things from my grandparents house that I treasure. They were little things that I remembered mostly as a child like a ceramic owl 'bank' on my grandfather's dresser. now it's on my dresser, with some of the old silver and half dollars he used to give me. it's those little things that keep them in our hearts.

lovely post.

conflictedthimble said...

I am so glad to hear it was a celebration of a live well lived.

It's wonderful to have those keepsakes to smile upon.

MotorCityGirl said...

You come from such elegant stock. My practicle, down-to-earth genes are jealous. Glad it was an enjoyable family celebration.

DC Celine said...

The funny thing is, like I wrote, I never saw her in these things - I knew her in slacks and blouses and on the golf course, or driving meals to others. Practical is the word everyone would use to describe her - right down to planning her own service - even the readings.

fashionlover said...

the little things always bring smiles and warm memories.

BabsieD said...

Just a beautiful post. I'm so sorry for your loss.


natalie@theliquidmuse.com said...

Sorry to hear of your loss. However, it sounds like a lovely tribute, and what special momentos you have now... for you and your daughter to treasure.

Kate said...

I love this. I can feel the warmth of your family.