Surprise Reunion With “An Old Friend” From Great Grandmother’s Kitchen

Posted on October 26, 2010


My Great-grandmother died when I was about 12 years old.  Up until that time,  I used to love to spend the weekend with her out in a small western New York country village.  I loved the antimacassars on the chairs, the windy stairway to the cupola, the barn you could drive through, the chickens and lots of time spent in her kitchen as she baked and baked and baked in a huge old oven.  Each Christmas her gift to all of us was raisin filled sugar cookies (with nutmeg in the dough) from her native Coventry, England.

The most vivid among my memories of that kitchen were the tall backed black chairs with red-ruffled cushions. They looked so much like proper Grandmother chairs I had thought. Hers was the house at which we often had big old-fashioned family Thanksgivings and for those “banquets” wonderful things used to come from the warmth of that special place.

Just a couple of weeks ago I was describing that kitchen to someone and I mentioned the chairs.  I had no idea that I would soon be reunited with one.  The cause for this was the death of a beloved step-uncle.  His three step-daughters gathered here and, after the burial, referred to a list of household items for distribution among the three of them.

The sister who stayed with me lived out-of-town in an apartment and did not want or could not take some of the items she had been left.  She told her sisters she had turned her things over to me.  This past weekend a friend drove me in a farm truck to pick up a wing chair and a wonderful old foot stool that had been specifically set aside for me. As we drove in my uncle’s drive, I noticed a couple of other chairs in front of the garage. My cousin motioned at them and asked “would you like those chairs”?  A lover of all artifacts from the family I eagerly answered, “Of course.”

As  my cousin carried a black chair with a high back down to the truck I asked,  “is that an old kitchen chair”?  “I don’t know” she replied,” I only know it was Great grandma’s.”  Then it struck me.  It was one of THOSE chairs.  Then I visually connected with my past. I can’t tell you the feeling of something coming home I had.  My cousin looked over at her husband  and said –” well there you go, it’s going where it should.”

No one had wanted it but then no one thought that it was a fine enough antique or that it had a good memory pedigree.  The sisters  had not visited it often in Great-grandmother’s kitchen.  They  hadn’t been born yet or were too little.  I’m the old one left with the long memory – and my Great-grandmother’s kitchen chair!   And now it’s in my kitchen and a loving Grandmother’s spirit now inspires my cooking.  And in these troublesome times, it’s comforting to have that old friend sitting in a corner.

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