I remember a time when I would look through magazines with my mother and envision the perfect house that would fit our style. We would go through different pages and pick and choose which art pieces, furniture, and trinkets that would go into our non-existent home. It wasn’t until recently that I would come to find that the planning and designing of our make-believe homes would be one of the only memories I had of my mother from when she was still healthy.
Nearly two years ago, my mother passed away and left a wall full of signs to me and my sister. Some were gifts, some handmade, and some were diamonds in the rough that she had discovered at the little shops littering downtown Salina. I remember in the days following her passing staring at the wall. There was no distinct color pattern, design, or theme among the little signs, but in some odd way, it all went together. I had grown an odd attachment to the signs, and for some reason could not think of even putting them up in any other house. To me, the signs were a part of my mother; a time capsule remembering a time of when she was still alive. I had been able to keep tears at bay for hours until the signs were placed in boxes and sent back to our home and my buffalo skin rug.
Weeks, months, and even a year had passed since she died, and the signs remained locked away in boxes, collecting dust. The little signs that I had grown fond of had quickly disappeared from my mind until mid-March of 2017. I had been frantically looking for lightbulbs when I came across the box. Wrapped in newspaper and pieces of cloth, the signs were preserved perfectly. I remember the rush of memories and emotion hit me like a freight train, and I couldn’t contain the tears.
I sat on the dusty garage floor, and one by one unwrapped the signs. I remember staring down at them, tears running down my face as I recalled my mother telling me all about the newest addition to her collection. She had asked for my input and help to put them on her wall for every single one of them.
It didn’t take long since the rediscovery of the signs for me to decide to put them back up in our home. Many were scattered about the living room, finding a new place amongst the family portraits and nick knacks.
To anyone visiting, the signs are just a part of the décor; a fashion choice made in a moment. It never really made me think about the other décor scattered about the house until I read this essay. Every single piece of furniture, trinkets, or accessories that go into a home is thought about. It might be a wonderful find at a garage sale or an impulsive buy from a high-end department store, but every piece is what makes a person’s home theirs.
Without photos, rugs, souvenirs, or even signs, a house is just a house. It is just a series of blank walls staring back at you. It takes décor to make it into a home.