My Old and Faithful Tea Towel
- May 22, 2017
Mr Sunshine says I’m a hoarder. He’s not completely wrong. I hate to throw anything away which I think will come in handy and I also hate to throw anything away which holds any sentimental value.
He’s recently developed a penchant for racing through my house like a dose of salts, rounding up the crap, loading it into his car, and depositing it at the recycling centre. So frequent are his trips of late that he’s on first name terms with one of the men that work there! Generally I’m lucky if I get to audit the contents of his boot before he ‘liberates’ them, but now and again when I do I might be able to rescue one or two beloved items.
Take my tea towel for instance. My pre-loved beautiful tea towel. He thinks it’s ugly, thread bare and generally useless because it boasts a massive hole. I think that although it’s not particularly aesthetically pleasing, it’s perfectly functional and that the hole gives it character. I WILL NOT part with it. The reason for this, is that it belonged to my Grandma.
Emma Lines was 86 when she died in 2000. She had grown up as part of a working class family in Biggleswade and married my Granddad, Harry, a working class man from Coventry. They had one child, my Mum. The hardship her generation faced during the war years would be unimaginable to most of us today but she always managed to strive to better herself and to carve out a good life for herself and her family. She had genteel ways, and an immaculate attention to detail. I can remember hearing that other family members would love to go to tea at ‘Auntie Emma’s’ because she served her sandwiches and cakes on doilies and her tea in fine china cups and saucers, from a wheeled tea trolley. These little touches were almost certainly inherited from her years in service before the war.
A selfless woman, she brought up her brother’s son as her own for the first 5 years of his life as his mother had died soon after his birth. She’d desperately wanted to adopt him formally, but when his father remarried, the decision was taken for him to be returned to his Dad and his new Step Mother. A decision that broke her heart, and continued to do so for the rest of her life.
She and my Granddad doted on my sisters and me (their only grandchildren), and then after my Granddad had died in 1987, on her great grandchildren as each one was born. My girls especially would love to visit her, but would often remark that she was ‘a bit crazy’. She’d continually ask them the same questions over and over, and she’d become very forgetful. On one occasion she called me asking what I’d done with her scissors. She was adamant I’d used them to cut the baby’s nails and wouldn’t believe me when I said I had no idea what she was talking about. The baby she was referring to was no longer a baby, and when I told my Mum about the conversation, she told me that Grandma has lost those particular scissors during the war! We eventually realised that she was suffering from some form of dementia. Thankfully she lived in ignorant bliss, and wasn’t a danger to herself, so whilst we all regularly checked on her, we let her be. One Sunday morning Mum went to visit her before Church. She’d already been up for hours, having cooked and eaten a Sunday roast. This was at 9.30am! Bless her lovely soul.
That old tea towel encompasses everything about that adorable old lady for me. It might have seen better days, it’s very clearly old (20 years +), and should probably be retired, but it is very much like its original owner as is evident by the fact that I still use it today, years after it was handed down: it might not be the pinnacle of class, but it’s premium quality nonetheless. So, Mr Sunshine, hands off!!
There’s not a day goes by that I don’t think of her; this slightly mad, fun loving, life embracing diamond of a lady. She died the way she lived: gently, sat in her chair by the window, a cup of tea beside her, served from her faithful old tea trolley. In a fine china cup and saucer, naturally!
My name is Jane. Hopelessly happy hoarder.