A few days before Christmas, we had quite a lot of snow and a couple of blizzards here in the Colorado mountains. One night, the electric went off around 12:30 a.m., so within an hour, we decided to get up and light our woodstove for heat, since the furnace was also off. It’s a good thing we did, because it didn’t come on again until 5:00 a.m. I have two kerosene lamps we use when the electric goes off because they provide adequate light. One of them belonged to my mother and the other belonged to my paternal great-grandmother, Nancy Elizabeth Cochran Hale, mother of my Taylor grandma.
My paternal great-grandparents owned and operated the only general store within miles of the nearest town, for many years. Therefore, she was known far and wide as Aunt Nanny. But to my Grandma Taylor and to me and my brother, she was simply Mammy. Sadly, she died in April 1963 and my Aunt Fan (her daughter) gave me one of Mammy’s lamps. It is a treasure to me that will be handed down to my kids and grandkids one day, God willing it remains intact.
When we tried to light it during the recent blizzard, it wouldn’t burn. So, today we got it down and tried to figure out the problem and it seems the top metal part that holds the chimney and has the wick up through it, simply gave up the ghost. I was lucky enough to find both a new brass fixture and new wicks for it on-line today. Pondering how long those fixtures had been around on Mammy’s lamp, I was stunned to realize I have owned it for 51 years now and they’ve never been changed during that time. I don’t know how many years it had been, or even if they had ever been changed, when she had it. She had electricity for many years before her death, so it had become a mere decoration.
Stopping to remember back when I was a kid and that lamp was actually lit and burning regularly at night, it stirred up a lot of wonderful memories with people in my family who are all now gone, including my brother and only sibling. The two of us spent all of our childhood summers with our paternal grandparents, who lived close to Mammy, and we’d walk down to her house almost every day and back before dinner. Therefore, I knew her well. She was a quiet woman with a heart of gold and a large, happy family. Nobody entered her house without being warmly welcomed to the enormous dining table piled high with food and encouraged to eat, no matter which meal of the day was being served.
Perhaps she is sending me a message through that beautiful lamp, at this time of year, which seems to be both happy and sad. That message might be to treasure those you love and let them know that you do because one day they will no longer be around. Some insignificant item they once owned will be the thing that you remember them by when you take the time to actually look at it…and truly see it…and remember the good times.
Happy New Year! May Your Memories All Be Happy!