Tuesday, February 02, 2010

My Mother's House

"You should see it. It's gorgeous. Cinnamon Berry. The color is the perfect accent to the Carmel in the living room. I don't know why we didn't paint these walls sooner."

That's my mother. Last night. Talking about their latest house "fix." Long retired, my father is as into the aesthetics of his home as my mother, so he grabbed a paintbrush last week and went to work.

I learned how to "design on a dime" from my parents. Way long before it was popular. Decades before HGTV hit the airways. My parents "eye for style," particularly that of my mother's, is coded deep within her DNA. Her love of furniture, fabric, linens, dishes, paintings, lamps and accessories began at birth. My mother passed her love and appreciation of all things "homey" on to her daughters.

I remember walking into my friend's houses as a young girl thinking, Does her mother not know those colors are hideous? I wonder who picked out that wallpaper? My gosh, this couch needs thrown out! Oh yes, we King girls have been trained in the art of decor. Of house couture. A few times we've landed our butts in trouble because of our inability to pass by a furniture store, a gift shop, or a garage sale.

My mother's taste changed over the years. In the beginning, she was "Mid-Century Modern." But actually, that indeed was the 1950s. Then, long about 1965, she acquired an antique desk, and that began her voyage into the Victorian era. Slowly, she moved into rustic, then country, and now her home is full of antiques, lace, velvet, and all things Queen Anne and Victoria. Their Georgia home reflects their love of the past, having collected antiques long before it was popular. Therefore, you'll not find many homes like this one. You won't find an antique organ in many homes with a centennial carving on it that reads, "possession of the first English-speaking colony."

My father's artistic ability to "gingerbread" is overwhelming. Literally. A cabinetmaker with lots of time on his hands, Dad's trim work is unique and special, but it adorns every window and doorway. Home Depot has asked him to give lessons at their stores. But Dad is content to live in his workshop, carving out his latest project.

On vacation, touring many historical homes and mansions, I have to giggle. My parents could make a fortune, just from the sale of tickets to those wishing to tour their home.

It's not overdone, it's magnificent. The house and it's innards are extravagant, made for glossy magazine articles. House Beautiful has seen nothing like it, I'm sure. But the thing is, my folks have no clue how beautiful their home really is. It's their hobby. It's their life's work. It's their refuge and safe place. They live there, eat and sleep there. Entertain their children there. It's not a museum. It's home.

They are children of the Great Depression. They grew up poor. Dirt poor. They married with nothing more than the clothes on their backs. My mother's parents were alcoholics and abusive. She was torn from her family at an early age. My father escaped a life in the coal mines of West Virginia, went to college, and had brothers who were jealous of any little success in his life. So, now in their 70s, my parents live in the house they spent over 57 years building and creating. It's one of a kind. My mother's house will forever be burned into my memory, as well as the memories of all of her children and grandchildren. Nanny's house is where you go to breathe her in, feel the best of her, and rest a while.

My mother's house is as much a part of her, as her arms and legs. It truly is ... home.

Blessings to you and yours.


Anonymous said...

love your "storytelling" would love to speak to you more...and, have you ever written anything regarding why southern women drop their middle name and keep their maiden as middle and add new married name as last... i am trying to write an article for my local magazine's bridal edition and can't find many references...I know why I did it, but need to know if there are others like me...

Anonymous said...

Dear Anonymous,
Thanks for your gracious comment, and yes, I'd love to speak to you. I have a few opinions as to why many of us drop our middle names and replace them with maiden names. I should blog about it, I suppose. Feel free to quote me. All blessings to you today! - Pamela King Cable