F. Marie Carter died 20 years ago today.
Here’s a photo of her, with her mother and her grandmother, when I was an infant. The photo was taken in Coushatta, Louisiana. We were all dressed for church.
How have 20 years passed?
Amongst the items I inherited from Aunt Esther is this antique china cabinet. This stood in the alcove in her dining room on Clinton Street in Columbia.
Filled with memorabilia from her life, it stayed with her at Foxwood Springs in Raymore, Missouri until her dying day. And then a month later it found a home in my own dining room.
This china cabinet now holds priceless memories: my mother’s collection of Fireking Jadeite china, Grandma Carter’s formal china, Grandma Blocher’s stemware, a few pieces of Great-Grandmother Blocher’s china, some of my mother’s crystal serving dishes, serving bowls from various relatives, and so on. Plus a lovely bone china set I purchased at an antique store in Indiana 15 years ago.
And sitting beside the china cabinet is my Grandma Carter’s violin.
On this day after Thanksgiving, I am seeing shadows.
The Thanksgiving holiday was spent primarily at my family home in Lee’s Summit — the white, two-story 1920s home that my parents purchased in 1979, and which is now owned by my youngest sister and family.
As I made the traditional cheese grits on Thursday afternoon, I found myself thinking about a particular Thanksgiving in the 1980s. Mom’s brother, Uncle Edwin, was in town with his wife Mary. My grandmother was there too. And perhaps Aunt Esther, although I don’t recall.
Mom had worked hard on the Thanksgiving meal, but when Mary and I found out that she did not plan on having stuffing, we set to work. Mary made cornbread, and the result was some of the most wonderful stuffing ever. Several of us raved about it, at the expense of raving about the rest of the meal.
Mom was not happy.
I still remember how badly I felt.
This is now the 20th Thanksgiving without Mom here. The traditions continue. We ate food from my maternal grandmother’s plates on Thursday, and we had the traditional family additions of cheese grits and paper-sack apple pie. My sisters and I shared the cooking duties, with the addition of Karen’s adult son Blayne and Beth’s wonderful husband Robert. New traditions are set too, including platesof things like cauliflower and Brussels sprouts.
More shadows are emerging, and more additions are present too, including the lovely young great-niece Lily.
On this Thanksgiving, I am thankful for SO many things, not least of them family, and shadows that ground and remind and connect me to a place and people, and most importantly for the means of grace and for the hope of glory.
Today would have been my mother’s 79th birthday. Not a day has gone by in these last 19 years that I have not missed her.
I was just thinking about 1967. Fifty years ago.
My mother turned 29 that year. And she gave birth to a third child. And sold a house. And moved to a new town. And buried her father. All in one year.
You know those questions that measure personal stresses in life? I bet she was off the charts in 1967.
That is all.