Every time we have a family gathering we say a blessing before the meal. Regardless of who says the prayer, it always ends with a simple decree: "Bless the missing ones".
This took on an even more profound meaning at this year's Thanksgiving table. On November 10th we lost our dear Mams--beloved daughter, wife, mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother. She was a matriarch in every sense of the word. She was loving, yet fierce. She was doting, yet independent, acerbic, yet wise. She was a force of nature like no other and the table was just a little bit less lively without her.
MAMS AND YOURS TRULY, SULLIVANS ISLAND, 1974
She and my grandfather, Pappy, had a wonderful life. They raised three children (including my father) ran a successful business, and were active in the community. They loved to travel, be with their family, and entertain friends.
THE ORIGINAL BLUEPRINTS FOR THE HOUSE, 1949
They were always ahead of their time, so it was no surprise that in 1949 they decided to leave the comfort of downtown Charleston and move over the river "to the boondocks". They bought a plot of land just west of the Ashley River and set about building their dream house. There were no paved roads, no city sewer or power lines, and for all intents and purposes, no neighbors. No matter...they forged ahead.
THE "HOUSE IN THE BOONDOCKS" - JUST AFTER THEY MOVED IN, 1950
THE HOUSEWARMING PRESENT THEIR DOWNTOWN FRIENDS GAVE THEM...
They lived happily in that house for nearly 60 years. They raised their children there. Had fabulous parties, endured the devastation of Hurricane Hugo, hosted our wedding reception, and welcomed 10 grandchildren under that roof.
MAMS AND PAPPY IN THE LIVING ROOM, THANKSGIVING 1972
MATT AND ME, OCTOBER 1998 IN MAMS AND PAPPY'S LIVING ROOM
THAT LIVING ROOM AS IT LOOKS TODAY (PHOTO: JOSH GIBSON)
OUR WEDDING RECEPTION IN THE GARDEN-TRUE TOFORM, IT WAS QUITE A PARTY!
THIS IS NOW OUR BACKYARD PARTY (PHOTO: TRADITIONAL HOME)
But after my Pappy died, and Mams got along in years, the house ultimately proved to be too much. As luck would have it, this was right about the time that my husband and I decided to move our family from New York back to Charleston. A deal was struck and we purchased the house (with her blessing to do "some renovations") in 2009. I was going home.
We entrusted the indelible talent of Bobby McAlpine to re-invent the house into our own version of a dream home in which to raise our family. I had only two requests: 1. to modernize, but "keep the spirit" of my grandparent's white brick colonial 2. Bring in as much natural light as possible. Bobby nailed it.
BEFORE - THE HOUSE AS IT LOOKED WHEN WE PURCHASED IT IN 2009
AFTER - THE NEW EXTERIOR, 2012
THE REAR VIEW - BEFORE
AND AFTER (PHOTO: JOSH GIBSON)
THE DINING ROOM -- BEFORE MY FAVORITE PART ARE THE WONDERFUL
CHINESE HAND PAINTED PANELS MAMS COMMISSIONED
WHEN THEY WERE TRAVELING IN ASIA.
THE DINING ROOM - AFTER
(PHOTO: TRADITIONAL HOME)
DON'T WORRY---WE RE-USED THE CHINESE PANELS IN THE NEW POWDER ROOM
(PHOTO: JOSH GIBSON)
THE KITCHEN - BEFORE (REALLY IT WAS THE GARAGE)
THE KITCHEN - AFTER
(PHOTO: TRADITIONAL HOME)
THE SUNROOM- BEFORE (SOMEWHAT DARK AND DREARY)
AND AFTER (LET THERE BE LIGHT!)
We are proud to have taken the torch of re-creating an epicenter for our family. It was an honor and a privilege to host a wonderfully robust Thanksgiving feast this past week where we all laughed, cried, told stories, shared memories, and for a brief moment, filled the immense void she left. Mams, you will live on in our hearts, because in your honor, we will never forget the "missing ones".
She will live on in our hearts, because in her honor, we will never forget the "missing ones". May she rest in peace...her legacy will continue to live on in our home.
MAMS AND ME AT OUR BIRTHDAY CELEBRATION
THIS PAST SEPTEMBER.
In memory of Mams 1924-2016.