Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Pass It On

Last weekend we went to the art festival in our downtown. Lots of beautiful crafts, paintings, photography, wood turnings, etc. and music and food from everywhere around the world. It is always a good time and this year it was even better because for the first time since we moved here it wasn't a hundred degrees. This year it was overcast and cooler than years past and so we were able to walk around and breathe and not sweat. My husband ate food from Samoa, I ate Greek food and Little Man ate a hotdog. After lunch, and a little more walking around, we experienced potty training in a port-o-potty.

When we left, we strolled downtown and ducked into several antique stores. My husband was looking at the furniture for ideas and joinery techniques. I just browsed around looking at old books, and knick-knacks. In one of these stores, upstairs and tucked away into a back corner, I noticed several pillows. They had some wear and tear and needed a little love to restore them but even in their discarded state they were beautiful.

These pillows were needlepoint and embroidery. They were intricate, graceful, feminine, and meticulous. The number of hours it must have taken to embroider the small flowers makes me gasp. The even stitches that were patiently and lovingly laid with each pull of the thread. Even the design was unique, well, certainly nothing I've seen before.

I touched them and felt their delicateness. The still silky feel of the embroidery floss and the durability of the tapestry wool. The once vivid colors were fading and the seams were splitting in spots. There were stains of use and living. I found myself standing still and staring at them for a few minutes with thoughts and emotions racing through my mind.

Who had made these? Who were they made for? What happened to the creator and the owner? How many people had rested upon them? Questions with no answers. I was sad that these pillows, which represented care and love and talent and practice and patience and planning, had ended up in the dark, dusty corner of this antique store. No one to know their history and no one to carry it on.

I felt sad for these pillows, or rather for what they represented - lost history and perhaps the last in a family line. More so, I felt sad for those who gave them up. They have no appreciation for those that came before them. No knowledge of their history or care to look beyond their own world.

I have things like this that have been passed down in the family - furniture, needlepoint, lace, jewelry, books, etc. I love it. To me, these are the tangibles of our DNA. "Your great-great-grandperson made this." Well, they also made me. Isn't it a responsibility to pass these things, this history down to the next generation? What do you think?


  1. I too value the treasures passed on to me from my ancestors and like to imagine just how they were feeling when they made some item or on what occasion they received it as a gift etc. I also find I like to rescue the pillows you wrote about....if something speaks loudly enough to me I have to rescue it and give it a home, and let it to speak...that all the care taken in the making is still valued and appreciated. I love the story of the little church that they have worked so hard to fix up and a storm comes and rain leaks on the newly patched wall just before Christmas the Pastor goes to the thrift store and finds a beautiful tablecloth which will just cover the big ugly spot. A man comes in to pray and is so moved by the sight of the table cloth he asks the Pastor where it came from because his wife had one just like it when they lived in Germany before the war. They had become separated and sent to different work camps and he had never seen her again. So the Pastor talks to the lady at the thrift store, who tells him who donated the cloth and he then takes the man to meet the woman who of course is his long lost wife. This makes me think that there are some things that need to be kept and honored even if they are not from our own family, because maybe they will be used to a greater purpose. Maybe they will unite spouses separated for a lifetime. Maybe you will meet the person who was the intended recipient, who by some quirk of fate lost the beloved item, maybe you are the steward of something precious that will change a life.

    1. Thank you so much for sharing that story. It was very touching and certainly something to keep me.