Our funniest heirloom story

bronwynsmomJuly 6, 2008

Okay, one more family story. The "heirloom" thread elicited so many responses that I think you all might enjoy this one.

My aunt, keeper of everything related to my mother's family, died just shy of her 90th birthday after a long and interesting life. The family plot in the churchyard of an historic church in the country is getting full, so she wanted to be cremated so as to take up less room. Very sensible. We couldn't bring ourselves to put her ashes into some ordinary thing from the funeral home, so we found a very nice chinese urn from among her things and gave it to the funeral director to use.

The next day, he called and said, we have a small problem. We said, what's that, and he said, you need either more urn or less aunt.

So back into the china cabinet we went, and there was what we all called "the red pitcher," which was a rather horrible mulberry colored pitcher with painted flower medallions on both faces and a lot of gold trim. Family lore has it that my great-great grandmother threw that pitcher out the upstairs window at a Yankee captain whose horse was trampling her rose bushes. He caught it before it hit the ground, took off his hat, offered it back to her, and took his men out of her yard. Whether or not this is true is not important...but it made a great story.

So we took that pitcher to the undertaker, he put her in it, and we set it on the altar table in the church for the funeral service. The church is a beautifully simple restored colonial country church, with white painted wooden box pews and stone floors and very little ornament of any kind. So the excessively ornate red pitcher sitting on the altar was a subject of some curiosity, until at the end of the service my cousin Bill went up, picked it up, and led the procession out into the churchyard, where it went into the ground at the appropriate moment in the liturgy. Suddenly my mother noticed that her sisters ashes were actually in the pitcher in a white plastic bag, at which point we all got the giggles, because this aunt was notorious for saving and stockpiling plastic bags. It was a moment of great satisfaction in the celebration of her life, and a knitting together of the colonial, the 19th century, and the modern aspects of our family, all tied up neat as you please.

Then in good Southern fashion, everybody went back to somebody's house and had a good stiff drink and a table full of food, and agreed that we had sent her off both with proper respect and with a measure of pure silliness, which she would absolutely have loved.

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b mom...So cute and so funny of a story...I will have to think long and hard on this one!
Thank you for sharing it!

    Bookmark   July 6, 2008 at 1:12PM
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LOL Cute, heartwarming story!

Not an heirloom story, but when my MIL died her DGD stuck in a small cloth belt that she used to "threaten" her Grandma with in order to act nice when she went to town! LOL

I placed her Bible in her hands and my DH (her DS) placed a newspaper sale ad from PriceChopper supermarket because we kidded her that if she didn't show up there everyday - they'd call and inquire as to her health! LOL

    Bookmark   July 6, 2008 at 2:41PM
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Not actually an heirloom story, but when my father died my mother told me what he used to say when he saw a bra ad. You had to know my father he was very quiet and very straight. He would say " Mother, look at this ad...1/2 off" ! It is a story I will keep with me as I never thought he would think or say anything like that. I am a naive daughter!

    Bookmark   July 6, 2008 at 3:16PM
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That story is priceless! I loved it; thanks for sharing.

    Bookmark   July 6, 2008 at 4:31PM
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All the stories are heartwarming!

    Bookmark   July 6, 2008 at 9:31PM
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Not funny, rather pathetic story from me. When my Grandmother died, my Mom (her only child) inheirited everything. There was a box of photos taken in the early 1900's. Mom didn't recognize any of them, but knew they were all relatives. She saved the box. Mom is now 85, blind, has severe emphysema from a lifetime of smoking. I'm the oldest child, so I guess I'll inheirit the box of photos. Will I save it ? Yes, they're my relatives, too!

    Bookmark   July 9, 2008 at 9:33PM
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Huh. Jannie, I have a box or two of the same kind of photos. I'm going to dump them. I am a sentimental old fool who saves everything, but relatives or not, I'm dumping the box. No one in the family knew these people or can identify them, and none of my kids, nieces or nephews has any interest in them. The more time goes by, the more unimportant they become. I don't feel one bit sad or guilty about doing it - I just have to find the box!

I wish I could be so ruthless about all the other stuff in this house!

    Bookmark   July 10, 2008 at 11:01AM
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Just because this is an organization thread I can't restrain myself - I look for old photos in thrift stores to make collages with, so don't throw those old photos away! At the very least donate them to a place like that. One person's trash, another person's treasure . . . I love the stories, and the part about saving the plastic bags is priceless - including the bags from bread, right?

    Bookmark   July 10, 2008 at 12:07PM
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I have a box on unidentified people also. I was thinking of getting rid of it because my brothers don't seem to have an interest. Most must be of my grandmother's and grandfathers family but don't know who they are or even if they are my grandparents.

    Bookmark   July 10, 2008 at 12:25PM
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Great stories!

I too have a box of photos of dead relatives (at least I think that's who these people are....) Don't you just wish someone would have written a notation on the back as an identifier?

Two of my favorite notations: "Just Me" (photo is of a young woman and a child) and "Dr. Hobson's Eczema Ointment" (photo of 4 young women holding cigarettes).

If they're my relatives, they are also relatives to others - so is someone else wondering who "Me" is and what "Dr. Hobson's Eczema Ointment" has to do with four young women from the early 1900's?

    Bookmark   July 10, 2008 at 8:35PM
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When my kids were young, I took loads of photos. I put many in albums and labelled them. Example: "Baby Lucy's First Year" "1989 to June 1990". I wrote names on the backs of photos before putting them in albums. I think my glorious system stopped about 1995. Since then, unfortunately, I've just jammed photos and negatives in a box, hoping "someday" I'll have time to really organize them. I would never wtrite "Just me" on a photo. I'm trying not to leave the next generation a mess after I die. By the way, I plan on living forever. It's working so far. . .

    Bookmark   July 11, 2008 at 10:17AM
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