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Antiques vs. the next generation

Lynette Johnson
Lynette Johnson

Your family may have experienced the same dilemma: who is going to want the family heirlooms? 

Let me begin many years ago so this saga will make sense. My husband and I married young. We had no furniture and the farm home my husband grew up in had loads of it — all of it old, going back generations. 

His parents were moving to a smaller home and they happily gave us everything that wouldn't fit where they were going. It was fortunate I loved old things as much as I did. So, life went on and everyone was happy. We had four children and they grew up being surrounded by antiques.

In time I even acquired a few more heirlooms from my side of the family, from my parents and other relatives who bequeathed items to me.

When we moved to Florida our antiques were even amenable in our condo there, then the antiques moved on with us to North Carolina. 

Over the course of time, every heirloom was designated to go to a particular child or grandchild — it never occurred to me they wouldn't want them! Then after nearly 20 years in Asheville, we decided to move "home" to be near our children. 

We knew we needed to downsize drastically as we would be moving to a much smaller home. It was decision time as to what to do with our antiques. An open and honest discussion was needed with our children and their spouses to discuss whether there was anything they wanted. Fortunately, prior to the meeting we had come to grips with reality. Each of our children was established in their own homes and did not have room, let alone the desire or style, for our big pieces of furniture. They encouraged us to sell, by whatever means, the pieces they could not accept into their homes. I didn't cry, I didn't have a meltdown, i.e., they don't want my precious stuff?

Over time I came to appreciate their perspective. Thank God for making us so adaptable as human beings! We did see to it that every child and grandchild in our family received "smalls" that were meaningful as a connection to their past.

Furniture pieces that had a rich history were the hardest to let go. I had rescued an old Hoosier from the farm's garage. It had been moved there from the house at some point in time to hold tools and paint cans and such. It was adorned with black grease and had many coats of paint on it. My mother-in-law was great for painting everything in sight when she bought paint (waste not, want not)! The Hoosier had been given to her before she was married in payment for work she did for someone. 

I proceeded to strip the paint off and turned it into a beautiful piece of furniture for our home. I had invested sweat equity and do hope someone else now loves it as much as I did! A question screams to be asked: Do you see today's furniture ever becoming an antique of the future?

On a totally different note, I want to thank The Times for the wonderful opportunity to be on the Write Team. And thank you to the readers who have encouraged me with lovely comments. 

LYNNETTE JOHNSON has lived out of state for more than 20 years, but returned home two years ago, settling with her husband in beautiful Marseilles. She can be reached by emailing

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