Today is my Mum’s Birthday, she would of been 84. Six weeks to the day of her passing My Dad also passed, his light had gone out, his fire had died. Suddenly I was an orphan in my forties. I cried, I got angry and I got creative. It so helped me.
When my parents first set up home after marriage, my Mum went to her local second hand furniture store and purchased what was needed. One of those items was a chest of drawers that she told the shop keeper proudly that she was going to paint. He was horrified and told her so. But she did buy it and she did paint it. It stayed with them until I set up home then I inherited it. I stripped it, it was the 80s and that was the trend. That’s when I learnt the story of My Mum painting it. I kept that chest of drawers till my Boys moved out, then I gave it to them.
I often hear, that up cycling is a trend that won’t last. It’s not, it’s been around forever. Houses would morph into different houses, windows blocked in, turrets built, conservatories and orangeries and the same with furniture. I will sometimes come across a piece of furniture that has been modified at some point in its life. As for fablon (or stickyback plastic as we knew it) and vinyl wrapping your kitchen (and your car) I remember my Mum using it in kitchen cupboards and on a table. We are not pioneers in up cycling we are just followers. We just have better materials to work with now.
But I digress. My Dad was the practical one in their marriage, the one with the tools. He was the one that mended things because you never threw out. My Mum was the one that made things pretty, the icing on the cake. The wallpaper hanger, the furniture painter, the cake decorator. My dad would do the ground work my mum would finish off. They best bit is that the showed me. My first sewing machine, came from the tip, was serviced by my Dad and I was shown how to use it by my Mum. I took my jeans in, I made them drainpipes! I made a furry pencil case.
On clearing out their home, I came across a handwritten knitting pattern for slippers. Ok the pattern stated that you had to use left over wool or wool from a holey jumper. Reusing again. I started to knit, i knitted my way through my grief. I knitted and knitted and knitted. I gave these slippers away, sold them and went to a wool festival where I had a stall. Nobody knew that these little hand knitted slippers were made by me through the worst time in my life. There are hundreds of my little slippers out there, a little bit of me and a little bit of my mum.
Then something else happened…..the chest of drawers came back to me. My Boys were moving on. I paid for delivery (delivery driver horrified when I proclaimed I was going to make it good) as too big to put in my car. It arrived in a terrible state, no back, no drawer handles no drawer base. Apparently, they rolled it down the stairs to smash it to take it to the tip…..I saved it. I set about up cycling. It’s not even recognisable as the same one my mum painted. Then it began I became the rescuer of furniture.
I honestly believe that being creative helped me grieve. It didn’t stop me but it helped me my black days were black days with a flash of colour. A bit of hope. I never forget as the first thing I see when I wake and the last thing I see when I sleep is the chest of drawers.
Happy Birthday Mum.