Sunday, July 24, 2011

My Mother's Tea Cups

Our house is for sale. It hasn't sold yet, but, with optimistic hearts, we are already packing up things we don't need to use daily. It's a bit like, "If you pack up, it will sell."

Yesterday I packed some things from my china cabinet. It's an antique, oak, with lovely carvings and curved glass sides. This cabinet is special to me for a few reasons: because it fulfills my childhood fantasies of having a gracious home filled with lovely things, because I bought it with the first big bonus I got working at UNUM insurance back in 1991, and because it holds my lovely treasures. Among those lovely treasures are dishes and glasses that belonged to my parents, delicate porcelain statues that I got in Quebec, and my mother's tea cups.

The tea cups and I have history. Growing up, we lived in a small modest Cape Cod style home. Our furniture was shabby and we didn't have many "lovely things." Hanging on the wall above our television, was a tea cup shelf. It held my mother's treasures - beautiful English bone china tea cups.

One day, for reasons I can't recall, I went behind the television. When I stood up, I bumped my head on the underside of the tea cup shelf, toppling it off the wall. The tea cups smashed to the floor.

I don't remember if they all broke, but some of them did. I'm sure Mom was devastated, though I don't remember being yelled at or punished. She probably did yell, and I probably was punished, but I really just remember breaking the tea cups.

After that, my brother and I bought Mom tea cups for just about every occasion. When my grandmother passed away, her collection was added in. Later, when Mom had Alzheimer's and Dad had a stroke, we packed up their house. I took the tea cups.

There are too many tea cups now even for my china closet. I've got some in a cupboard above the refrigerator, and my sister says there are still some in a box in her basement.

Mom passed away in March. She had Alzheimer's so long - the first signs showed more than 10 years ago. I grieved her loss all along the way as she disappeared into the disease. I guess I thought that perhaps it would be easier when she actually passed, because she had been gone so long. But it turns out that's not the case. So much of life is tied up in Moms and Dads and losing them is very primal. Even in middle age, we become their children again and we want our mommies and daddies. So yesterday, when I packed up some of Mom's tea cups, that was me.


  1. Hugs to you...
    It will be a year ago on the 26th that my mom passed away. She was in poor health for the last several years and had Alzheimers (although not advanced). However, in the past few years her personality had changed. In the month before she died I remember telling someone that I had already mourned the mom that she used to be since she was so different. That couldn't have been further from the truth. So much of my life was wrapped up in her that the mourning was deep and painful. So, again, I send you hugs. I know how you feel...

  2. Laura, thank you so much. I think that, with her passing, all of the long-ago times are re-visited. The happy times, fortunately, yet they make you sad, as you miss her all over again! Your words and your presence comfort me.

  3. Handling the things our parents treasured is a bittersweet experience that never quite disappears, though the hard edges soften with time.

  4. Yes, jabblog - funny how it's those little things that jog us.

  5. Sending you big hugs, Melissa. My Mom died two years ago. I still find myself wanting her.

    I, too, have tea cups. We lived in the projects of South Boston, but Momma had China tea cups and she used them. She used to tell me that they wouldn't do her any good once she was gone, so we might as well use them.

    My home is a tiny cape, but when we bought it, my beloved Roger created a space for my tea cups. For the first time in my life, I have them ALL on display. And, yes, I do use them from time to time.

    Come visit my blog later today, I will be posting pictures of my cups.

    Hope your move goes smoothly.

    Peace and Light! Linda

  6. Linda - stopping by! I grew up in Andover, Mass. so we were practically neighbors :-). Someday, I will display them ALL. Thanks for the hugs and sending some back.

  7. Here's the link, Melissa! Just put it up. Enjoy!


  8. Oops...forgot to add the link.

  9. What a touching post. I know what it feels like to lose a parent and It is such a deep hurt. And you're right about feeling like a child. I felt the same way.
    Blessings, Joanne

  10. Joanne, thank you for the sweet words. One of the comforts is that we are all eventually bonded by this common experience. Hugs to us all :-)

  11. This is so touching, Melissa. I am fortunate enough to still have my Mom, but I have been helping her clean out the house I grew up in lately, and going through so many of her old things has made me acutely aware of her mortality. Hugs to you as you grieve, and I'm very sorry for your loss.

  12. Thanks Julie, it's amazing how feelings are stirred just by touching these special things from our lives.

  13. I too, have many precious memories woven into my Omie's teacups. It has been on my heart of late, to take them out and enjoy tea with my grandchildren. I wonder how many more memories these cups will absorb as they pass from generation to generation.
    Blessings to you!

  14. Carol, it's lovely that this little post made us all think about how we treasure the moments created by such simple things - as my grandmother would have said, "a nice cup of tea," and we would joke, "is that a nice CUP? or nice TEA?" or both? Nothing like a cuppa tea in a lovely tea cup. You have all made me feel much better.

  15. That is so touching, thanks for sharing.

  16. Thanks Toyin, and thanks for stopping by.

  17. Oh Melissa, this brought tears to my eyes. I'm sorry about the loss of your mom and to have gone through it twice is terrible.I have real tea cup envy right now, especially because I love afternoon tea so much.

    Thank you for coming by my blog the other day I'm a new follower.

  18. Melissa, this is such a lovely and heartfelt post. I could see you as that little girl way back when. Your mother sounds lovely and the teacup in the photo is just gorgeous! And usually I'm not into china.

    Thank you for your little "buck up" comment. I could feel the sincerity behind your words. I'm getting there.

    Cheers for that! Reese
    p.s. I'm having a music giveaway. come by and see.


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