Mornings have become my favorite time of day. It wasn’t always so. When I was working mornings began before the sun announced the dawn. I’d rush around half asleep readying myself for a busy day at work. I’d eat my breakfast on the fly hurrying as quickly as possible to get into my car and hopefully missing the worst of the rush hour traffic. Even with my best efforts a wreck, a stalled car, or a rain storm might land me smack dab in the middle of an immovable jam of traffic. I’d sit in a half asleep stupor wishing that I lived closer to my work so that I would not have to endure the horrors of a long commute in a city with virtually no mass transit. I never felt as though I had any affection whatsoever for the earliest hours of a new day, but that was before I no longer had to leave my home to join the daily rat race.
Now I arise without benefit of an alarm. No longer do I feel as though someone has awakened me with a cattle prod while in the middle of a lovely dream. Instead my body and a hint of sun tells me when it is time to begin the routines of my day. I have no sense of hurry for I am now the mistress of my schedule. I wander into the kitchen to prepare my morning tea and a light breakfast and then repair to my sitting room. It is an area filled with things that have meaning for me, things that make me feel comfort and happiness.
It is a somewhat old fashioned place because it is filled with things that once belonged to people that I have loved. I might tell a thousand and one stories just from glancing at the objects that decorate every inch if the space. It is dominated by an art print that once hung in my mother’s home. She and my dad chose it when I was still a young child and I recall accompanying them on the shopping excursion in which they selected furnishings for the living room in the first home that they had purchased. It is a lovely rendition of magnolias which at the time complimented the colors of the sofa that they had selected. Long after my father had died and the original couch was gone my mom still treasured the piece and it came to represent both her and my father in my mind. It calms me in an almost spiritual way even though it is only an object. Somehow I feel the presence of my parents and remember the happy times that I shared with them whenever I gaze at the lovely work of art.
Ironically I had purchased a floral chair long before my mother gave me her prized picture. The colors in the chair look as though they were produced solely to go with the painting. A dear friend eventually created pillows to place on the couch that pull the entire room together. It is comfortable and quiet in the room and it has become my refuge.
After my mother-in-law died my father-in-law gave us her secretary desk that I had always admired. It stores other treasures that I have either inherited or collected over the years. There is a cookie jar that my brothers and I bought for our mother one Christmas with money that we had saved from all of our little odd jobs around the neighborhood. It also features two little blue teacups that had once belonged to a set of toy china that my mother had as a child. There are lovely ceramic birds from New Orleans that Mike’s Aunt Elsie collected when she lived in that glorious city for a time. My treasured piece of the Berlin wall is nestled in a lovely wooden box from my eldest daughter along side a lovely china container from England. There is also a clock that my brother gave me when I earned my college degree that is still working long after I have left the career that it launched.
Perhaps my favorite piece is an antique vase that once belonged to my great grandmother Christina. My grandmother Minnie Bell gave it to me when I was still a girl, admonishing me to always keep it safe. It meant little to me when I was young, but over the years it has found a special place in my heart as I think of how precious it must have been to Christina as she lived out her hard scrabble life. I have moved it from one home to another with great care. It is a tangible link to my history and to the women who came before me.
There are other wonderful things as well that may mean nothing to others, but everything to me. I have end tables and lamps that belonged to Mike’s grandmother, including an old style Tiffany lamp that also compliments the colors in the room dictated by the picture on the wall. Pewter coasters crafted by the Norwegian uncle of our dear friend Egon hold my morning tea and make me smile as I thing of the friendship that we had with this man who left the earth far too soon. A whimsical frog catches my eye and those of my guests making me think of a sweet colleague named Jane, an extraordinary woman who so enriched my life when I was still a working girl. A shadowbox contains door handles and some of the wooden flooring from the home that Mike’s grandparents built when my mother-in-law was only a child. It is gone now but I can still see it and imagine the dinners and the parties and the ordinary days that they enjoyed there.
My sitting room is a peaceful place, a refuge that I now have so much time to enjoy. It is where I go when I need to think or just relax. It looks a bit old fashioned but I have yet to find anyone who does not feel the same sense of serenity as I do when enjoying its comfort. Best of all is the fact that I am now able to linger there as long as I wish. I feel a sense of joy in recalling the lives of the people represented in the contents of the room and sense that their spirit still resides in me. It is so much more than things. It is a respository that speaks of who I am, where I have been, and where I might one day go. It’s a place where I can go to truly be me.