Thursday, May 10, 2007

Can You Keep a Secret?

You know I can't ... and I want to air a little family Dirty Laundry.

Not that it's overly dirty, but it's not exactly Tide with Bleach Sparkling White, either. I suppose it's more like dingy.

So, let's start over ... I want to air a little family Dingy Laundry.

Hm. That doesn't sound nearly as interesting, does it?

When my grandmother died in the mid-80s, the family divided up her belongings. I received her bedroom set. It's actually quite nice - light maple, full size bedframe, small dresser with mirror, and a cute little bedside table.

My parents stored it in their various homes for a long time. When they retired to a smaller home, I had to move the set to my apartment in Silver Spring. Even though I haven't used that set since I was in high school, every time I considered getting rid of it I got a lecture from my mother.

"It was your Grandmother's"
"It should stay in the family."
"You can't sell it to strangers."

blah blah blah blah blah

Once, I mentioned that I might give it to the Cuz.

I got the same lecture.

"But, Mom," I said, "the Cuz *is* family."
"Well, she would have to promise to give it back if you ever needed it," she replied.

I never understood her attachment to this set of furniture until conversations with other family members helped put it into perspective ...

My father's family is from the South. My mother is from Massachusetts. I heard rumors that my grandmother was none-to-pleased when my dad married a Yankee.

[Cue joke: Q. What's the difference between a Yankee and a Damn Yankee? A. A Yankee comes to visit; a Damn Yankee stays.]

I don't believe my grandmother ever treated my brother and me differently from my cousins, but maybe my mother sometimes felt slighted. And, I wonder if keeping the bedroom set in the "mixed-blood" side of the family gives her a sense of satisfaction.

Not for much longer though. I've given the set to a friend who is moving to a new apartment and needs furniture. She doesn't know if she needs the bed or not, but she's taking the dresser and bedside table.

Let's hope my mother doesn't find out.


  1. tell her simply, they are things, not people. you are attached to people and memories of them, not the furniture they slept in. :) we're giving our roommate bran's mother's bed. he doesn't have family to bitch over it. i guess that's one of the advantages of not having family.

  2. Anonymous10:21 AM

    I had our grandmother's little televsion set (ca. 1970) forever. I don't care much about televisions, and it worked fine. It even caught on fire once, and continued to work. When I moved from D.C. to Michigan, my mom was horrified by this ratty-looking old televsion and insisted I leave it behind. I gave it to my landlady, who gave it to her daugher. Vuboq was like "what?? You're ABANDONING Nana's television! How can you be so cold???!!!" But of course, he didn't want it either.
    vuboq's cousin
    p.s. I never understood why your folks didn't just keep that bedroom set for themselves if you mom liked it so much.

  3. cuz: TV's are a *completely* different matter.

  4. oops. ignore that apostrophe.

  5. Reminds me of my old housemate, who had to take in her parents' antique heirloom dining set because her parents had no room for it but they wanted it to stay in the family. Everything else in our apartment was your typical college-student fare and then right in the middle of the dining area there was this big heavy antique dining table with eight matching chairs. We didn't live on the ground floor, by the way...

    I never got that.

  6. Take photos of the furniture. They're much smaller than the furniture itself, and keep the heirlooms in mind should you wish to recall them.