Monday, 11 August 2014

A little hidden treasure

was found in the process of clearing out the "china cupboard" in the dining area.
I am not sure why I have never bothered with this until now. It is not because it was my mother's territory. That does not bother me. There was nothing there that had any great sentimental value for her. She was not a sentimental sort of person. The Senior Cat is the sentimental and romantic one.
I suppose I was just being lazy but I set to and removed a good many things - bowls and dishes of no great value, some cracked items that could not be used (why did my mother keep those?) and some mugs advertising a brand of soup we do not drink.
There were several very large "turkey" plates - from the days when my mother was competing in the catering stakes with my sister's Cypriot mother-in-law. (It was an unequal contest my sister's MIL won without even trying. Her family was much bigger.)
There were other plates that my mother had picked up along the way, two painted by her late school secretary. I have kept those. One is genuinely useful. The other was painted to acknowledge my parents' 50th Wedding Anniversary and inscribed as such on the back. I don't want it but my sister will eventually take it.
It was all fairly standard apart from the hand painted delicate bone china tea-set belonging to my paternal grandmother. No, I am not parting with that. It probably has some monetary value but it is also a family heirloom. We have never used it - but if we ever have an elegant afternoon tea for six then we can.
I put the pieces of Royal Doulton back too - not because they are Royal Doulton but because "Grandma" used them. Yes, I can be sentimental too.
And then I opened the first of the drawers containing the cutlery items. We use the set of plain stainless steel Scandinavian cutlery. It will probably serve more generations to come. There were some "apostle" spoons on one side - in a cardboard box. I had forgotten about those. They need cleaning but I just put them back. They have sentimental value for the Senior Cat.
In the next drawer I discovered things I only vaguely remembered being there. There were leatherette boxes with clasps and, nestled inside on velvet and satin there were cake forks, dessert forks and spoons, another dessert set with bone handles.
Underneath those was a slightly larger box with a set of a dozen fish knives and forks with bone handles. There was also a small rectangular card which said "From Will and Jean". The knives and forks were a wedding present to my paternal grandparents. They are at least a hundred years old. Were they used? Yes, the Senior Cat remembers them being used.
I put them back.
And then there was the larger blue box right at the back. I had to pull it out carefully and, when I opened it, I discovered something I had never seen before. It was a "trowel"/cake slice.
It is inscribed with my paternal great-grandmother's name and marks the occasion on which she laid the foundation stone for a church.  
I took it out to the Senior Cat. He remembers the occasion - but only just. He was a very small boy.
Did she use it? He doesn't know. Did his mother use it? Yes, on very special occasions.
"I thought we had lost that," he told me and then, "I wonder why your mother hid it away like that?"
I can guess. My mother belonged to a very different religious group. She would not have approved of the laying of such a foundation stone. She would not have wanted to be reminded of such things - or use them.
But now that I have found it I will perhaps make a cake and invite some of the clan to afternoon tea. We will use the cake slice and remember my paternal great-grandmother because memories should be used or they will be forgotten.


jeanfromcornwall said...

Yes, do use it, and pass the memories on. These things should be remembered by as many of the family and friends as possible, so that they become part of your stock of legends. Every family should have some.

catdownunder said...

Intend to do just that when the cousins get back from their trip!