Our funniest heirloom story
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.