Thursday, February 2, 2012

My Name Is Not Christine

I was able to make it South of 49 to help my mom. It was a long trip with bad roads in both directions and I am exhausted. The good news is my mom and I were able to cross off almost every item on her to-do list in spite of the length of the list and the fact we only had two days in which to accomplish everything.

A major chunk of our time was spent furniture shopping. She is moving into a place that is much smaller, so has to downsize everything from the dining room table to the sofa and chairs. At one point midway through the first day we went to Macy's to look at couches. I dropped my mom off then went to park my car. When I got to the furniture floor it took some time to locate her. Finally, in a far off corner of the store I saw what appeared to be a very small woman being swallowed by a gigantic couch. As I approached she sat looking at me with that crazed look of defeat that happens when too much time has been spent shopping with too few results. She said, "I think I'll get this one." I asked the sales clerk if my mom and I could have a moment alone. Needless to say we left without the couch.

This is the table my mom will be giving away. It doesn't look like much in this photo. You can see the rungs at the bottoms of the chairs have the finish worn off. There are scratches and small nicks in the seats of the chairs from years of people sliding on and off of them. The marks on the table top from the Super Glue Incident my brother had when he was a teenager can still be spotted if you know where to look.




This table has been the centre of our family for 40 years. We have celebrated around it.


Rebekah and Alexandra

Kellen, Rebekah and me

We have played countless games on it.


Karsten, Jay, Rebekah and Kellen


It even held my wedding cake.


Left to right: my parents, me and Jay, Jay's parents

The night I arrived at my mom's my cousin Tammy came over to have dinner with us. We sat around the table eating, laughing and sharing memories of when we were young. At one point my mom asked Tammy if she remembered our Great Aunt Christine. Tammy looked at me and laughed, saying she didn't but she knew I did.

Christine was my grandpa's sister. Not only was she his sister, she was the family matriarch. She had immigrated to America long before my grandpa and his brother Hans, and she was the self-proclaimed boss. I dreaded having to go visit at her house. In fact, I am sure my lifelong hatred of doilies can be traced back to those visits.


At the back are my Uncle Hans, my grandpa, and my Aunt Christine, who I hasten to add I am NOT named after!

However, there was something even worse than the doilies. It was the fact that she thought I was named after her. I would adamantly state my name was Kristie and she would continue to call me Little Christine. Every single time we visited. Now there is nothing wrong with the name Christine. I quite like the name. But it wasn't my name. And did I mention she was a little short in the joy department? I think all those doilies had sucked the life right out of her. Robert Burns must have known someone very like my great aunt. These lines are from his poem Tam O' Shanter, and they do a much better job of describing her than I ever could.

"Where sits our sulky sullen dame,
Gathering her brows like gathering storms,
Nursing her wrath to keep it warm."

As it turns out that evening with my cousin and my mom was my last meal at The Table, the one that has been our family's faithful companion through both joy and sorrow, celebration and consolation. Thousands of seemingly ordinary meals, along with the occasional extraordinary one have happened around it and now that era has come to an end. I try to remind myself it is just a thing, a piece of furniture, but I would be lying if I said it wasn't sad to walk out of the apartment and know I would never see it again. I just keep trying to remind myself that the memories are mine forever, and, in the end, it is those memories that gave the table its value.

16 comments:

  1. What a great post, Christine! er.. I mean Kristie! ;) Loved the photos.. and it looks like you have enough of them to help you remember that table. Too bad you couldn't take it home with you. I get emotionally attached to 'things' that my Grandma gave me..don't know if I'll ever get rid of those, even though they aren't anything special to anyone else. By the way, you looked lovely on your wedding day..love the dress! And Jay looks like Karsten there!

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    1. There is no shortage of pictures taken around that table, that's for sure. Even if I could have taken it home I don't think it would have fit the space in our kitchen. And yes, Jay and Karsten look very much alike.

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  2. Not named for her and there's no resemblance either! She looked pretty dour. Reminds me of a relative or two.

    This is a wonderful post, Kristie. I'm glad you got to laugh at the table. It is just a thing, but things can transport us to different times and different places...that we treasure. I hope your mom was able to fit some of her things in the new place to help ease the transition.

    I like the style of the table. It's timeless and strong.

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    1. Dour is a fitting word for her. :-)

      My mom is only moving a few things to the new apartment, but she doesn't mind. She and my brother don't have a sentimental bone in their bodies. It was my dad who shared that trait with me.

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  3. PS - Aneta is right about your wedding day.

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  4. RYC: I was a responsible young man with messed up priorities. I managed to grow out of one...maybe both. Thankfully I took education much more seriously when I was paying for it. =)

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  5. This post had me tearing up. It's incredible that a piece of furniture can be the centerpiece of so many incredible memories. Also, look how gorgeous you are in those photos! And, I love the evolution through hair! :-D

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    1. I am trying to focus on the memories as I let go of the actual item. It definitely has a lot of memories tied up with it. I have even gotten Facebook messages from relatives who read the post and were fondly reminiscing about their times around that same table!

      Not so sure about the gorgeous part though. :-)

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  6. Replies
    1. Thank you Mary Lou. It wasn't easy to write.

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  7. A great post Kristie, you really made me stop and think about the ties I have to things that belong to my mother. Hold on to those memories :D

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    1. Memories and family stories are so important. I intend to hold on to them tightly. :-)

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  8. It's great when you can post your memories about something and then have other people share their memories too.

    It's one of the reasons I started my blog. So I could remember all of those things (like Wiz's aliens) in our lives. Those are the things that shape our family.

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    1. I agree. It has been fun seeing the comments about this blog I have received on Facebook messages and in emails from family and friends who have all reminisced about their time sitting around our family's table. Blogs are definitely great for recording memories, alien and otherwise. :-)

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  9. Furniture is fine, photographs are wonderful, memories are what count......thanks for sharing.

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    1. You're welcome Anne. And you are right - in the end it is the memories that count.

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