Sunday, November 6, 2011

Tea Sets and Violets...Memories of Mother

Memories of Mother
"Sweet Violets
Sweeter than the Roses
Covered all over from head to toe
Covered all over with Sweet Violets"

I cannot hear this song, or smell the sweet scent of violets without thinking of my mother.  Violets were her special symbol, chosen when she was a young girl.  They were her Young Women's flower and painted on delicate china cups and saucers stored lovingly in her cedar chest with her wedding gown and treasures.

She was like a violet herself then, small and delicate with the dark eyes of a fawn.  I can see in my mind the sepia photograph of her as a lovely young girl of 12, gazing serenely into the camera's lens.

She was a pretty child and the darling of her family; the lone girl in a pack of boisterous brothers who alternately spoiled her or teased her mercilessly.  And boy could they tease!

When I was very small, Mother gave into my care the remaining plates of a green Depression Glass tea set.  This tea set had been her most cherished possession when she was pre-school age.  One day, as she carefully carried her little dishes into the living room, one of her brothers sneaked up behind her and yelled in her ear.  With an earsplitting crash, the little tea set was dashed to the floor.  Tearfully, she gathered up the plates that remained unbroken.  Somehow through the years, those plates survived.  How they survived my childhood is another miracle.

I was about five years old when she gave them to me and told me how special they were to her.  I am still amazed that she trusted me to care for them.  True to my stewardship, I kept the little plates carefully wrapped in newspaper and stored in a small box.  It was such a treat to occasionally unwrapped those treasures and imagine playing "tea party" with the pretty little girl from the Depression.

When Mother was a girl, Grandma and Grandpa made for her a wooden treasure box covered in pretty wallpaper that matched her bedroom.  As the oldest granddaughter, I inherited that box.  Inside were special dolls and toys that I kept at Grandma Patta's, safe from my boisterous brothers and sisters. Only I could play with the things in that box. 

When I visited my grandparents I spent many sunny hours playing under a tree in the backyard, or on the upstairs landing on rainy days. My favorite game at the time was to imagine that my mother was still a little girl, just my age, and that we were friends.  We played for hours, her in an old-fashioned dress from the 30's and me in shorts and a tee-shirt, reading old issues of Children's Friend and designing our dream houses with pictures cut from Better Homes and Gardens. Sometimes she watched me make Barbie clothes from the bag of sewing scraps that Grandma saved for me.  She only watched...because Mom could not sew worth a lick!

My grown-up mom was not on friendly terms with her old sewing machine.  Any sewing project made her so stressed-out that we kids used to hide whenever she put in a zipper!  It's kind of funny, because her mother made beautiful gowns for antique porcelain dolls and I've made quilts most of my life.  I guess some things skip a generation.

But she loved collecting dolls almost as much as Grandma Patta did.  And the countless gifts of dolls from her children and grandchildren gave her a lot of pleasure.  Especially during those last years...that endless stretch of time when she couldn't go out, but could only sit in her doll room surrounded by memories.

I have many warm memories of my mother, but I always like to think of her as the small girl whose unsteady little legs carried her and her tea set into Grandma's living room.  And that memory is always accompanied by the scent of violets.

In Memory of Rhea Lee Gray Devey
April 7, 1935-November 6, 2006

I wish to acknowledge my sister Lisa, who designed the little memory pages.  She made each of the sisters a beautiful miniature scrapbook.  So much love and effort was put into them.  I will always treasure mine.

I am grateful today for the love of my Father in Heaven.
"I am a child of God
And he has sent me here
Has given me an earthly home
With parents kind and dear..."


Lisa Jo said...

Thanx Sis. ... :) i was sitting here reading this and a memory came back... I remember going to a play you were in called "I remember Momma" from what i remember Mom took us more than once. she was always so proud of you. i cant remember the play at all and i cant remember seeing you in it, But i remember Mom Proud about it :)

Betsy said...

This is such a lovely post. I enjoyed reading about your mom. What a special heirloom you have in your tea set. It made me a little melancholy--my mom was recently diagnosed with Alzheimer's and although it's progressing slowly, it makes it all too real that she won't always be with us.

Little Susie Home Maker said...

What a wonderful post about your mom. What a true blessing. I really enjoyed it, so thank you for sharing. The way you took care of her tea set reminds me of the pretty little china set I also wrapped in paper towels and kept in a box when I was little. It was my treasure! I decided to follow your blog. It is very sweet. Come visit my blog that is just in its beginning stages!
Little Susie Home Maker

Lynn said...

You made me cry! It was so sweet. Your sister did an awesome job on the scrapbook!! I love the stories of the tea set and the special box at your grandparents house. I wish we could have tea together too. Maybe you could help me learn to sew!! YOu have a wonderful week!

LBP said...

What a sweet, sweet post. How special that you have those treasures from those who are so precious to you. I love violets too....