decorating / homefront · remembering / musing · shopping / or not · Uncategorized

Copper shopping in the house of memories

Copper, copper everywhere. This warm, pinky metal seems to be front and centre of every magazine, lifestyle supplement and Instagram account I open. From sleek light fittings to organic shaped bowls and even wood baskets, copper is the metal flavour of the month year.

And I want me some!

Such are the dilemmas one faces when locking oneself into (publicly articulated) pledges such as The Year of Buying Nothing New.

Nothing on-trend for moi. Unless … unless I can remember what happened to that old copper urn of Dulcie’s (more on Dulcie later).

After poking around, I found it ensconced in a dusty alcove behind the bedroom door. So dusty, that it barely resembles copper.

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But her beautiful art deco lines tell me she’s from the 1910s or 1920s, which fits in well with her provenance. This stunner belonged to my dad’s mum, Dulcie … the grandmother I hardly knew.

Dulcie (that’s what we always called her, though never to her face) lived in the country, several hours drive away and we rarely saw her.

She was confined to a wheelchair for as long as any of us can remember. I’m told she came to live with us for a short time in our little house in the suburbs. It’s before my memory and I can’t even imagine how or where we managed to squeeze her in.

She moved on to a nursing home and I do remember going to visit her with Dad on Sundays. I’d take my crossword book and sit quietly and do puzzles. There was never much conversation. Almost none.

I recall the occasions when Dad picked Dulcie up and brought her home for a day visit. Again, I don’t remember much about the visits, except that, once Dulcie had been transferred to a comfortable chair, we (my sisters and I) would push her wheelchair outside and take turns pushing each other (and the dog) around and around the back yard. We did lap after lap, racing at full, gleeful pelt. For hours. Looking back, I can’t believe we were allowed the pleasure.

After Dulcie died, some of her possessions ended up in our little home in the suburbs. This copper urn was among them.

I can clearly visualise her in Mum’s living room in the eighties, full of pampas grass fronds stretching up to the curtain rods. In the nineties, I remember her filled with twisted willow branches, from which Christmas baubles dangled for a couple of months each year.

When Mum passed, the urn found her way here, to my home, and for a time held our umbrellas in the front hallway. But copper wasn’t hot or on-trend or fashion-forward or even likeable, so I eventually stowed her out of sight. And out of mind. Until now. Until she was driven back into my thoughts by desperate monkey-see-monkey-want thinking.

Like any true-to-heart second hand dealer, I flipped her over to check her markings and found “solid copper” clearly stamped along with what looked like a maker’s identification mark. Closer inspection showed that mark to be Dad’s driver’s licence number, engraved on the base to ward off any would-be burglars, as was common Neighbourhood Watch practice in the eighties. That was worth a big giggle.

Now I’ve polished this darling piece back to glory and am busily searching my home for the perfect spot to display her.

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She might not have a hot designer label or a sleek “brushed” finish, but she’s warmer than any of that copper in the big ticket décor shops, because she’s brimful of memories that money can’t buy.

And she’s not new.



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