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Monday, October 24, 2011

Love Spoons: A Recollection of Love

Dana Scully

Ten years ago my great grandmother, known to everyone as Mother, passed away. It’s fair to say I idolized this woman. She endured hardships that I can only imagine (and pray never happen to me). One being that my lumberjack great grandfather at the ripe old age of 40 (I say this tongue in cheek...as I am now forty) was crushed by a log roll. Dozens of huge pine trees rolled from the supposedly secure moorings, right on top of him. But my kinsmen are hardy folk. My grandfather survived this, albeit unable to move the lower part of his body.

Image courtesy of Google Images

The lumber company wasn’t required to pay for my grandfather’s injuries. Unable to work, the company simply let him go.

With four hungry children, my grandmother did what any woman would do...she went to work. She spent the days working and the nights looking after my grandfather. An image of my grandmother coming in from the fields, tired and worn, picking my grandfather up (yes, I come from genetically strong women) and carrying him to the dinner table is still etched into my memory. She’d then carry him to the bathroom where she would carefully bathe him, help him relieve himself, and then carry him to bed.

Not once in all the years I can remember did my grandmother complain. Not once.

She loved my grandfather with more love than I’ll ever know. And she loved me too. I know these things. I know just because. But I’m fortunate, I also know because of the gift she left for me...a gift my grandfather gave to her before they were married...a token of his love and commitment...a Welsh love spoon.

When my grandmother passed I didn’t understand the meaning of this small, un-useable spoon. I knew my grandfather was Welsh, but knew little of his past except what I’ve imparted to you today. It wasn’t until a friend of mine, returning from a trip abroad, presented me with another spoon and an informational postcard that I was able to piece together the meaning behind this spoon...and just how sentimentally valuable the gift of it was.

A simple love spoon from The Love Spoon Gallery American Pewter Love Spoons

www.lovespoons.co.uk Image courtesy of Google Images

Love spoons, not only from Wales but also from Germany and northern Europe, are indeed tokens of love and commitment, dating back to the early 1600. Originally, these wooden tokens were used as their namesake suggests, as spoons, but over the centuries they have taken on a more decorative purpose, showcasing not only the romance between the couple, but also the skill and mastery of the carver. Each love spoon is distinct with varying symbols depicting the carver’s romantic ideology.

Love Spoon Symbols

Anchor-A settled love Eternal devotion

Bell-Together in harmony; Wedding

Ball In A Cage-Love held safe

Birds-New birth; Love birds

Castle-Wales

Chain-Together forever; Number of children; Lives intertwined

Comma/s-Great affection; Soul mates

Cross-God’s blessing

Diamond-Good fortune

Double Heart-Steadfast

Double Spoons-Happy, loving couple

Dragon-Wales

Flowers-Courtship

Heart-Love; ‘My heart is yours’

Horseshoe-Luck

Key/s-To one’s heart

Keyhole-‘I shall look after you’

Knot-Together forever

Leaves-Growing love

Lock-Security; Monogomy

Spade-Willingness to work hard

Split Bowl-Sharing

Twisted Stem-Together as one

Wheel-Steer a safe course through life

My mother explained that before my grandmother passed she was instructed to give the pin to me and explain its meaning, but as broken with sadness as we all were, the explanation was lost...until now...

A Welsh immigrant and a half-breed American Indian girl were never supposed to meet, let alone marry, but they did. They loved each other instantly and deeply. After a short courtship, my grandfather presented my grandmother with this spoon to signify his lifelong love and commitment.

At its pinnacle is a small cross atop two key holes surrounded by commas. Prominently displayed next is a single heart surrounded by knotted forget-me-nots. Along a long shaft is another single heart that surmounts the spaded spoon bowl.

By giving this spoon to my grandmother, my grandfather was asking God’s blessing to marry his twin soul and promising to look after her. He offered her his heart and asked that she always remember him, believing that love and a willingness to work hard would see them through their marriage.

How apropos those symbols my grandfather couldn’t have known at the time, but he most certainly did at the end. When he passed just a few years before my grandmother, she was there holding his hand. He looked after her for the first half of their lives and she him at the last. They worked hard, never forgetting their love. They looked after one another always. And I believe God blessed them every day of their lives.

I have a lovely Welsh love spoon from the talented carvers at The Love Spoon Gallery ( www.lovespoons.co.uk ) to give away to one lucky commenter. If you could carve a love spoon for your significant other (or if you’re single, future significant other) what symbols would it depict and why? Please remember to check back on Monday, 31st October here in the comments of this blog to see if you’re the random winner!

To: Mother and Grum’pa

With all my love-always and everywhere.

43 comments:

Maggi Andersen said...

What a touching and interesting post, Dana! The images didn't come through for me for some reason. I'd love to see them and will check back.

Dana said...

Sorry about that Maggi! Hopefully I've corrected the image error. Thank you.
Dana

Annie Seaton said...

A lovely informative post, Dana. My ideal love spoon would have a love knot.. for eternal love.

Maggi Andersen said...

I can see them now. Beautiful! I might adopt that name, Grum'pa!

Allison Butler said...

Hi Dana,

What a beautiful and fascinating post. Thanks for sharing part of your family history. What an amazing woman 'Mother' was.

Love Spoons are gorgeous. I love how they weave the many intricate shapes together. The special meaning behind each symbol makes them more beautiful.

My husband and I bought a Love Spoon when we visited Wales. It has a heart in the centre and still hangs in the special place it was given - on my hubby's bar:)

Elle Fynllay said...

Dana, I had tears in my eyes as I read your lovely story of your grandparents and their love spoon.

I hope you have some one you can pass it on to as well.

Cassandra Samuels said...

I loved your post Dana. Such a heartfelt love story. She really did love him "in sickness and in health" didn't she?

How lucky you were to have had the spoon bestowed on you - even if you didn't know the significance at the time.

I like the idea of the twisted stem - together as one.

Dana said...

Annie,
Thank you. Yes, a love knot...eternity with your soul mate does sound wonderful!

Dana said...

Maggi,
Thank you.
I hope your special "Grum'pa" is as wonderful as mine was! Enjoy the name.

Dana said...

Allison,

Thank you...yes, Mother was an amazing woman. If I am half the woman she was then I will be happy.

I love your love spoon...a heart right where it should be--in the middle of everything...and on the bar! Love it!

Dana said...

Elle,

I'm glad my story touched you! (I hope my manuscripts--when published someday soon--do the same!)

I do have someone to pass it along to...two someones actually...two boys! But since I can't decide between the two, I've decided to pass it on to my first grand-daughter. (Hopefully, that won't be for some time though--LOL.)

Dana said...

Thank you Cassie.
**I think I should mention here that Cassie actually help me understand the meaning of the love spoon. I'm grateful to her!** She's awesome--Cassie, that is!

Dana said...

Cassie,
The twisted stem is a good one. I like the idea of 'togetherness' that it represents...and that you're woven together...knitting a family out of your love.

maryde said...

Having never had the opportunity to know any of my grandparents (passed before I was born) I think you are indeed fortunate Dana to have had the joy of knowing your great-grandparents as well. :)

Yes people didn't just curl up their feet and die in them days... I agree with you that they were made of stronger stuff. If it is not too invasive or rude Dana, what age did your great-grandparents pass on?

What a beautiful true story of what Love in those days was meant to be for many lucky people. One that was ever-lasting.

I love folklore and all the mysterious whimsy's and objects that are associated with it. Who would have thought there could be so many different meanings behind these emblems/symbols.

I hope you will have someone special to pass that gift onto, who will treasure the story that goes with it. What a great legacy to leave behind. :)

My love spoon would have 2 hearts intertwined with a floral vine that would bind them together. And depending on the clever artisan, an inscription along the lines of "Two hearts, Two souls and One love to last forever."

Thank you for sharing Dana.....

Anonymous said...

Nice, I'm tied up in knots just thinking about it!

Anonymous said...

I would love to have a cross and a chain, the meaning of those two are wonderful. And engraved flowers, because I think a lifelong love still needs romance and courtship. Thanks, Dana, for a beautiful post - your Mother and Grum'pa sound so wonderful.
Malvina

Nikki Logan said...

Dana - that's just so beautiful. *sigh* Great blog topic.

The perfect lovespoon for my other half would have tools on it, maybe an intricately carved hammer-drill or arc welder :) And down the bottom a silhouette of our Bernese Mountain Dog.

The perfect thing for him.

xx

Eleni Konstantine said...

Awww...that is just a beautiful and inspiring post Dana. Thanks for sharing.

All the symbols are indeed lovely. The top image is lovely and appeals to me aesthetically as well as with the symbol meanings.

Christina Phillips said...

What a beautiful story of your grandparents love, Dana. And how wonderful that you inherited that very special Welsh love spoon. Thank you for sharing!

Helen said...

Dana

What a wonderful story it is so heart warming thank you for telling us. I have seen one of these spoons before and they really are beautiful although I didn't understand the meaning of them till now.

I think I would use Twisted Stem together as one I started going out with my hubby when I was 15 and he 17 we married on my 20th birthday and have been married for 34 years and I feel like we are one

Have Fun
Helen

Enisa said...

How very blessed you are, Dana, to have such a beautiful love story as part of your family history. Love ever open and true for always.
Symbolized in spoon language by a key at the end of a twisted stem with a heart in the middle of the stem.

Suzi said...

Dana,
What a beautiful story, and such wonderful spoons. So full of emotions and memories.
Suzi

Dana said...

Oh, Mary De! What an awesome love spoon you've created! Love it...and the inscription too!

As for my grandparents' ages...I don't know. LOL--they were always just 'old' to me...but somehow never seemed to age. When they passed it was a surprise (both times) even though it was mainly put down to 'old age'.

Dana said...

Malvina,
What a lovely love spoon you've thought of...and so personal--just as it should be.

Dana said...

Nikki,

How very unique! A hand drill and your beautiful pup. Your partner would be very fortunate to receive such a well considered love spoon.

You've hit upon something with your comment...love spoon symbols have meaning to the gift giver and the gift receiver. But those symbols, although we know their meanings and continue to use them, are antiquated...and the meanings may not be immediately understood by the recipient. A love spoon is meant to symbolize your love and be a personalized reminder of it. Using more current symbols or person ones is an awesome way to update the meaning and make it immediately understood. So well done Nikki! Well done indeed!

Dana said...

Eleni,
Thank you.
I do like that image too...especially the keyhole design. "I will take care of you." Sigh.

Dana said...

Thank you Christina!

Dana said...

Ah, Helene, that's a lovely image of a love spoon you've created. (Congratulations on being together for 34 years! Quite an achievement--and testament to your love!)

Funny...so many people see the love spoons (and remember them later on) but never think too much about them. Says a lot (I think) about their simplicity...they may be over-looked by 'on-lookers' but are very sentimental to the owners.

Dana said...

Enisa,
Thank you.
Wow! "Love ever open and true." Double sigh...how very romantic!

Dana said...

Suzi,
Thank you.

IWASNTBLOGGEDYESTERDAY said...

what a lovely post :)

My spoon would have to be twisted I think , have a heart.
It would definately have to have a key carved into it as my hubby had written on our wedding cake "he who holds the key to my heart,opens my heart"

Dana said...

I Wasn't Blogged Yesterday,

Aw! How lovely! Twisted with a heart (sounds like someone I know--LOL).

I love the key hole and cake inscription.

maryde said...

I know what you mean Dana... can we ever really be content to loose someone we love dearly, even if we THINK we are prepared etc etc... still is very hard.
Lucky you to have the years and memories you did have...

marilyn said...

There's something very special about family heirlooms, isn't there? That contact with the past fascinates many of us. I have some beautiful pearl ear-rings from my grandmother which I'll wear to my son's wedding - she would have loved to be there.
Great post Dana.
I'd go for the twisted stem too as my hubby and I are teenage sweethearts.
Marilyn

Dana said...

Mary De,
So true. I'm very lucky to have had the time with them that I did.

Dana said...

Marilyn,
I love the idea of a twisted stem representing your long lasting love!

Sheridan Kent said...

What a wonderful story. Loved it Dana.

Lin @ iCq said...

Dana, Grum'pa was 80 when he passed and Mother was 83. He was 10 yrs her senior and yes, both passed from age - but, Mother also had colon cancer which when diagnosed doctors gave her six months to live and she lived 16 years! She was a very "strong" bird! loved by all! Mom

Dana said...

Sheridan,
Thank you so much.

Dana said...

Lin (otherwise known as my Momma),
Thank you. Yes, she was a 'strong bird'. We come from 'good stock', don't we--LOL!
Thanks for stopping in and commenting!
Love you-always and everywhere.

Dana said...

Thank you all so much for commenting. You've come up with so many interesting and beautiful spoons ideas. Of those who commented, I put your names in a draw and chose one lucky winner for the spoon from the Love Spoon Gallery. And the winner is...drum roll please...Malvina! Congratulations Malvina! I'll be in touch shortly. Again thank you to all who commented. I look forward to chatting with you again soon. Until then...happy writing/reading!

Anonymous said...

AMAZING! I know you are all simply jealous of me... and I am completely and utterly thrilled! Thankyou Dana, that is wonderful wonderful news. I will treasure it with all my heart. Gotta love this blog. :)
Malvina

Anonymous said...

Not sure if my previous message actually 'took' - apologies if I gush again... but thankyou so much Dana, you have made my day. I am absolutely delighted with this and will treasure it so much. How lovely!
Malvina