Featured Art: Forgotten Treasure

Mary Lou Griffin
Diamond State Branch, Delaware
Forgotten Treasure: Grandma’s Bedroom Chair 
Pastel, 8 x 10
Grandma's-Chair by Mary Lou Griffin
I never got to know Leocadia Wielgorecki, my mother’s mother. She died several years before I was born. I only heard stories about her from my mother and my older brother and sister, as my grandmother lived with them. However, I am the one with her bedroom chair sitting in my basement.

Leocadia Wielgorecki
Grandma Leocadia Wielgorecki

That chair has traveled from state to state and house to house with me for many years. It sat tucked away in a basement corner until it was time to move again. I had great intentions of refinishing the wood and recovering the seat and pillow and using it — but that never happened. Even if I had restored it, I have no place to put in my downsized home.  
So here this chair sits, sadly looking at me when I am in my basement studio. Somehow, I cannot just throw it out. It’s one of the very few things I have that belonged to Leocadia. And besides, I grew up with that chair. I have memories of my dad sitting in it and changing his shoes after work each day. I remember my mom picking out that printed fabric to recover the seat and pillow. It’s not a fine piece of furniture. The fabric is faded, and the seat has lost its ruffled skirt. It’s seen better days, but it has history.
So, on a recent weekend, I decided to pay tribute to Leocadia, my parents, and “the chair.” I did this painting of it. It’s not a painting I would expect someone to buy. The chair is tired and worn. But by painting it, I somehow feel I’ve given it a new life just the way it is.
— Mary Lou Griffin


  1. Sara Etgen-Baker says:

    Mary Lou–thanks for sharing the story behind your lovely painting; it so adequately depicts a certain softness I’d affiliate with a memory of your grandmother. Yes, you’ve given new life to the chair, and it’s perfect just the way it is. I’m touched.

  2. Karen Kirshner says:

    I appreciated your touching story of your grandmother’s chair. In the picture you created is beautiful.

  3. Barb says:

    What a beautiful tribute to your grandmother’s memory and a thoughtful, creative solution to the problem of not having enough space for a treasured heirloom, Mary Lou! Now the chair can find a new home and you can keep it with you at the same time.

  4. Dear Mary Lou,
    I absolutely adore this painting. I immediately felt the intimacy encapsulated in chair. The fact that it’s worn, contributes to its worth! Thank you for sharing your intimate memories of your grandmother. I was raised by my grandmother. They beqeath to us a certain sense of strength, longevity and maternal love — somehow even if we’ve never met them! Thank you for sharing!
    Francesca C. Simon
    Sarasota Pen Women Branch President

    • Francesca,
      Thank you for taking the time to write. Leocadia came by herself as a young girl from Poland to Connecticut in the late 1800’s where she lived with a distant relative until she married. Can you imagine doing that yourself? I cannot. My grandfather, Miceislaus, died in 1920 at the age of 40 leaving her with 4 small children. My mother was 5 at the time. Leocadia never remarried, lived with her children through the Depression yet found a way to give her children a happy home. My mother played the piano, her younger brother played the accordion, and there was singing and dancing on Sundays. I know this from my mother’s 97 year old cousin Ann with whom I stay in touch. I know my inner strength comes from Leocadia. She was an amazing, loving person.

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