Secrets trapped in a settee

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The 1950’s settee, inherited from my Grandmother, has come a long way, and if it could talk, would have a thousand tales to tell. The two for me are inseparable – one can’t be thought of without the other.

My initial memory of the settee was as a child when it was covered in a dark thick tapestry. Later in the 70’s when the tapestry was too worn and faded Gran had it reupholstered in an oatmeal tweed fabric. I often reminisced at how large the settee and matching chairs seemed when I used to visit Gran and how strangely it seemed to shrink, how in fact, my Grandmother’s entire house shrunk with each infrequent visit.

Aside from the lovely wooden arms and legs of the settee and the curvaceous slope of its design, what I love most about having the settee is the memories it evokes of Gran and of those childhood visits and of the food that she would thrust upon my family from the time we arrived until the time we left, and beyond. Without fail Gran would pack up an Esky full of Tupperware containers brimming with cake and slice or cold meats or homemade pickles and jams for us to take or to eat on our journey home.

I remember precisely it was a hot summer day when I hired a ute from Richmond and my mother and I took our final journey down to Nowra to collect the settee and the last of my Grandmother’s belongings following her death. As we turned into the narrow lawned driveway, the house; the large double garage and carport; the front and back gardens with the roses and hydrangeas in bloom, all seemed so familiar yet so sad as if they knew this would be our last visit. It was an end of an era, a part of our life story had closed.

As my mother and I loaded Grans’ treasures onto the ute and closed the door I felt an overwhelming sorrow build. Painful tears fell from the corners of my eyes as I realised the finality of the situation. There would be no coming back. There was no reason for it now. I would still have the memories but there would be no more experiences at this house with my Gran again.

Now the settee and one matching chair (no one can recall what happened to the other) take pride of place in my home in its third, but not final, transformation, in a dark blue damask fabric. It is due for another recovering, but I am waiting until I move into my new home (in a months time) for that to happen. The fabric has already been chosen and I can’t wait to see it revived and splendrous once more.

The settee is also a symbol of me too, moving on in life. I am no longer that child that visited, slept and played on the settee. I also know that stuffed within the body of that settee, trapped amongst the springs and padding, will always remain the soul of my Gran.

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