A simple text was all I sent.
“Hey, do you want Mama's china?”
I inherited Mama’s china when I was in my late 20's. Mama was my father's mother, and she and Papa lived in Flushing Queens NY, where my dad grew up. Mama was an amazing cook. I do not know if she enjoyed it, but it appeared she did. She was a beautiful woman, blonde and blue-eyed, striking in a Jewish family, with a wicked sense of humor and a laugh that was contagious. I loved visiting Mama. Ger fridge was always stocked with plenty of cream cheese and smoked salmon, and Jewish Rye bread from the local baker. I especially loved when Mama cooked for large family meals and looked forward to her amazing turkey, and my two favorites, chopped lox and matzo ball soup.
Mama’s china came with the complete contents of Mama and Papa's house. When Papa had a stroke and Mama, who had been suffering from senile dementia, was relocated to a facility to support her, my inheritance officially arrived. I was living in a 2-unit building and I did not have room for everything. Most items were packed in the unfinished basement.
Years later when Jeff and I moved from Portland to Hiram, Maine into a larger home, the items I had inherited just didn't fit our 1800s farmhouse. Mama had great intentions, but the furniture was more of a burden than I realized.
Maybe you have seen this yourself…a person weighed down by their inheritance. The first time I noticed this was when I was 15 and living in New York City. My best friend, Winnie Ann West (if any of you know her please let me know, I have been trying to find her and reconnect!), lived in an apartment in the 50's between 7th and 8th with her mother. Their small, dark apartment, in one of those newer, harsh, and cold-looking buildings, was filled with furniture from a life long gone. Winnie’s mother was desperately lost in that past, reliving and retelling the stories of her youth and the wrongs done her and the inheritance cheated from her by her husband's adult children. That furniture was holding anger, grief, regret, and loss.
The next time I encountered this was years later on a work trip to Long Island. I was staying with a co-worker and her home, too, was filled with family furniture, heirlooms, that just did not fit physically or energetically in her home. The place was crowded with too many pieces of furniture that were too large for the space. I did not know this co-worker as well as I knew my best friend, but I could feel the dissonance of these items, their untold stories, and the emotions they contained.
The thing both of these places had in common is that they were uncomfortable to be in.
Thankfully, my father kindly alleviated me of most of the inherited furniture. But there are still a few items I have clung to. One of them being Mama's china.
Seconds later my brother texted back "Yes! And do you have her silver?"
I felt relief, I could sense energy needed to move and I was grateful he wanted to put the china to use. I went to the barn, got some boxes and wrapping paper, and headed to the dining room.
And as soon as I entered the dining room and started deciding which pieces to wrap first, I felt it…sickness, sadness, grief, regret, and loss all rushed up to meet me.
I almost texted back, "Just kidding, I am not ready to let it go!" But I decided to sit here instead and explore the stories that need to be let go.
What is it that I regret? What energy does this china hold? What story wants to be told?
At first the thing that comes to mind is the future I will not have. This simple act of passing on Mama's china to my brother means I am choosing a new path. Not the traditional story you might imagine for yourself as a grandmother with sons returning home with wives and children to enjoy a home-cooked meal. But in truth, what family meals I did make were never easy, never traditional, and I never enjoyed creating them. Yup, that is the truth. I hated being the one in charge of cooking meals, and I took no pleasure in feeding my family, or their enjoyment of the food. This feels really odd to speak aloud!
The second thing that comes to mind is the expectation that I was supposed to be that person who did all that, and become that grandmother. Choosing another path brings up guilt that I am not living up to those expectations...rather, let's call them restrictions!
The third thing is fear of the unknown. Because the story I had until now, exampled by my ancestors and reenforced by the system, laid out a path for me to walk that was of an individual "nuclear" family and me, the gram, making meals for them, buying gifts for them, putting them before me. Giving up the china means I am stepping out of that story, but I am still not certain where this other path leads.
The fourth thing, this one brought up the tears, is some kind of guilt for not being a "better" mom. For not enjoying making those meals, for not hosting more of them, and for not being as present and supportive as I think I should have been, and think I should be. I choose another path.
On this path I will not be hosting large family gatherings with my kids, their spouses, my grandchildren, my mom, my dad, my brother, my niece, my sister. On this path I will not be the Mom who stayed in the family home where sons return and love to visit.
I choose to follow my unique instructions from my own source connection (any time you want to make yourself known, please speak up!) And at this time, that means saying goodbye to Mama’s china.
By: Larissa: Davis.©
Photo: Detail of a lamp I inherited from Mama.