Friday, March 20

True Confessions


It's not my confession, but a story about some weirdness in my family. Back in the early 70's, my mom and her sister got into an argument over placing my grandmother mother in a nursing home. They couldn't agree and after my grandmother died, their argument rose to new heights of stupidity, in my opinion.

My mom owned this lamp, which she said she bought from her sister (who had inherited the family heirloom) for $40 back in the 30's, when she and daddy got married. During the argument, sister said that she never got paid for the lamp; a statement which mom disagreed with vehemently. Sister asked for a receipt, which of course didn't exist, and there was to be no resolution. Sister claimed that she should have the lamp back and mother said "Over my dead body".


Both these women were somewhat paranoid and the older they got, the worse the paranoia. Mom decided that the lamp had to be guarded at all costs, so every time she and dad went out of town, she packed up this extremely fragile lamp and took it with her, lest sister break into the house (she had a key) and steal it. The only place they ever went to was my home, which was 330 miles from them.

Mixed in with this weirdness was another oddity. In their town, some ne'er -do-wells had been breaking into people's homes and smashing everything in sight. Mom was afraid that fate might befall her stuff, including this lamp. She couldn't pack everything every time she visited, but the lamp always got brought. Never mind that it might have easily gotten broken during the trip. The only thing that mattered to her was that my aunt not get the lamp - or that no hooligans senselessly smashed it.


Earlier in the week, while reading something on Facebook, I saw a mention of relatives and it made me think of this story. I thought you might enjoy reading about how things can get out of hand when your primary focus in life is your belongings. My mom died first, but not before they reconciled, almost too late. My aunt didn't want the lamp at that point - in fact - she hardly remembered they'd had a fight about it. It is mine now, and I love it, but God help me if I ever pack it up to go on vacation or to visit one of my children. Then I'd know I'd crossed the thin line to insanity.

By the way, I've never had the lamp appraised and I don't know the exact age of it, but my mom said it sat in their living room when she was a child, and she was born in 1908.

30 comments:

JeanMac said...

Amazing story, probably lots of that goes on. I'm so glad you have the lamp - do you have a large enough travel box for it Judy:)

Jay Simser said...

It is absolutely positively wonderful that you have it. I think it is as pretty as my lamp. (actually it may even be prettier)

http://baileysbuddy.blogspot.com/2009/03/other-bouquet.html

Do you want to have a "Lamp Club"?

Barbara(aka Layla) said...

Great story - great lesson. I had to laugh at your mom packing it to travel with her. Oh dear.

It is a gorgeous lamp!

donna said...

Well, from what I can find in a few minutes on the net, it's a "gone with the wind" style lamp, and they seem to run between $300-$500 depending on their condition. But I'm sure your sentimental value is worth way more than that. ;^)

Gilly said...

Its a beautiful lamp! Treasure it! But definitely not to the extent of taking it with you all the time! ;)

Material things can cause so much bad feeling in families. I would hate to get to such a state that possessions meant more than people. But I suppose there's time yet.... ;)

PI said...

I sympathise with your mum. She should have changed the locks.
Sisters! I could write a book:)

Brighid said...

Amazing that we can put more love into things than people. Himself's family has gone thru this more times than I want to recall, all to no good end.
My gran had a beautiful way, she put a tag on things you admired,(without telling you) then when she died, everyone knew who that item was to go to.

bobbie said...

It is certainly a very lovely lamp. But as you say, no possession is worth such stress and worry, nor being at odds with a relative for years. Most families seem to have such strange stories somewhere in their past. So sad. There are more than one such in my own family.

Alan G said...

I'm a lamp person myself. Don't have a clue as to why but am not complaining. Reminds me of a couple my grandmother use to have.

Assume you have looked it over for any identification marks or printing.

Arkansas Patti said...

I am so glad the really neat lamp has found a stress free home. What is so funny now was so serious to your mother and aunt at the time. Similar stories here that make me shake my head in wonder. Guess I am too lazy to carry a grudge. So glad they were able to reconcile before it was too late.
By the way, that is a lovely table it is sitting on.

Tabor said...

Stuff. It is all about the stuff isn't it? We should take all those things that are more important than our people and rent a storage unit and keep them safely tucked away there. It makes so much sense, doesn't it??

Weary Hag said...

Oh Judy... so awesome to read you again! This story rings so true within my family as well. My sisters and I are kind going through the 'what should be mine, what should be yours' stage of organizing our dearly departed parents' things.

The lamp is GORGEOUS. Really special. Quite the story attached to it! :)

oklhdan said...

A few years ago my daughters heard of a family that was going to war over their parent's possessions so we decided to mark everything I have (that they might want) with stickers indicating which daughter it goes to. We actually had fun and a lot of laughs doing it. They teased me about who HAD to take what!

sonia a. mascaro said...

Just amazing story, Judy!
I agree with the comment that say: "Sisters! I could write a book". Me too...

Joy Des Jardins said...

Isn't if funny what families put themselves through Judy? I think that lamp is really quite beautiful. It might be worth something. I'm very glad it's in your hands....where some cooler heads prevail. I think you have a real treasure there.

themom said...

I'm totally amazed that the lamp (a gorgeous one at that) has survived being packed up and moved so much. My parents also had a table similar to that one also.

tiff said...

Cannot get over that she PACKED it with her for every trip. Yow!

Darlene said...

This reminds me of a similar fracas in my family. When my mother died there were six of us to divide her possessions. Mom had some black Indian pottery from the Tewa tribe in New Mexico and my step-sister and half brother got in a fight over it. My step sister won and put the pottery in her luggage. It was not as fortunate as your beautiful lamp. It was broken when my step-sister arrived home. No one won, which is the usual result in family feuds.

Grannymar said...

Lovely lamp!

Judy I am smiling at this story. I had a maiden aunt who by foul means or fair, depending on which family member you spoke to, inherited the family silver. She promised each of her nieces and nephews in turn the items. Nobody got them in the end, they went to a stranger!

Blonde Goddess said...

It's a beautiful lamp and I am very sentimental when it comes to family heirlooms.
No matter what it took to keep it, I'm glad the lamp went to you.

rosemary said...

sounds like my mother's family....my mom gave me her bedroom furniture from her childhood room. When she died, her brother told me I had to ship it to him to "keep the furniture in the family." Huh?

Evil Twin's Wife said...

It's amazing what people will find to bicker over. [thebrother] and I never argued over "things".

craziequeen said...

I love that lamp and I'm sure Tanya would love it too! It's so pretty.

My family fractured 20+ years ago and I don't anticipate a reconciliation due to the personalities involved.
So it was nice to read your mom and aunt made up their fight.

cq

Peter said...

Good story about how strange "we' can become.

Cold tinnies are 375 ml aluminum cans (used to be tin... thus tinnies) of drink, usually beer, chilled in the Esky, (most popular brand of portable icebox)

I often wonder what other readers might think about these explanatory notes???

Chancy said...

Kenju
This tale reads like a short story by any good old time southern writer. For instance, Flannery O'Conner.

thanks for sharing.

robin andrea said...

I think a lot of family issues start out about lamps, but are really about other things. Once those other things are resolved or forgotten, lamps can finally take their proper place. That is quite a pretty lamp.

Kay Dennison said...

Love the lamp. And it's definitely a valuable antique. However, I don't think it's worth fighting over. People are weird.

srp said...

It is gorgeous! Whenever will we learn that we can't take it with us...in the end. We have a couple of old lamps of my grandmother's but none that are quite this intricate and ornate.

Mar said...

It's a wonderful lamp!! but no item is worth a family fight or discussion....
Would you share with me which of your friend bloggers is moving to Barcelona??
:)

colleen said...

This is so funny. But I understand that it wasn't at the time. It belongs in a novel.