Saturday, August 6, 2016

Elise Brinston, April 2, 2016: The Final Chapter

Note to the readers: Unfortunately, I will not be able to continue The Antique Legacy in the way that I originally planned to.  I have crafted a graceful end to the story with this final chapter.  I don't know how many people still even check to see if there have been updates, but if so, I would like to apologize to you for not completing the legacy in the way I had intended.  This story was a large part of my life for a very long time, but now I think it is time for me to focus my time on other things in my life. I have really enjoyed the ride and developing my skills as a writer and I want to thank you all for riding along with me and (hopefully!) enjoying the story.  The wonderful comments that have been left here over the years have meant so much to me, and I hope that everyone will carry a piece of this story in their heart forever, as do I. :)  That being said, I hope you all enjoy the final chapter of The Antique Legacy. <3 Take care!


April 2, 2016
Dear Diary,

     Hi, my name is Elise (I'm not really sure how else to begin!).
     I've never kept a diary before, but I decided to start today because we had a substitute teacher today in AP French class who randomly urged us to keep a diary because one day we'll "treasure" the thoughts we once had as teenagers.  Don't ask me why she said this -- I really have no freaking idea.  It was so random and out of place -- she didn't even say it in French! But there was something so nostalgic in her voice when she said it, that I couldn't disregard those words of hers (probably unlike most of my classmates, who only care about getting out of class early).
    So, here I am! I hope I'm doing it right!

     AP French is actually my favorite class.  My mom says that our ancestors were French, so admittedly that's partly why I like it so much.  I've also done extremely well in that class, which helps! French just comes naturally to me.  I mean it is in my blood.
     A lot of things have been really crazy and unstable this year, but French and my amazing teacher, Mademoiselle Lucienne, have been a consistent rock in my life where I have been able to find some peace.

     Actually, it was during AP French when we had a schoolwide lockdown last month.  Our class was in the middle of taking a test when a woman's voice on the loudspeaker notified us that an armed intruder was in the building, walking the halls of our school.  It was the longest forty-five minutes of my life.  A couple of my brave classmates turned off the lights and pushed a desk against the door.  I felt frozen in place for a couple of seconds, but then I followed everyone else behind Mademoiselle Lucienne's desk, where we all huddled together on the floor. A few of my classmates started crying. Mademoiselle Lucienne pursed her lips and closed her eyes.  I hugged my knees to my chest and tried to feel anything but numb.

     I  remember thinking, in the tension-filled silence, about how I would probably die, but that I only wanted to remember the good things in my final moments.  I thought about hugging my mom, about the wonderful, late-night conversations with my dad, about celebrating the win of my four-by-800 meter relay with my track teammates.  All my best memories were with my favorite people.  
     I was really sad because I had just gotten into a nasty argument with my sister, Marie, and I'd said some terrible things I didn't mean.  I didn't want that to be the last conversation we had.  At that moment, I would have given anything for one last chance to make amends.

     The police saved all of our lives that day, arresting the intruder before he could really harm anyone.  Honestly, I would argue that he harmed us all anyway, because even though we escaped without a scratch, the emotional scars run deep.
     I now experience a lot of anxiety and that's actually another reason why I want to start keeping a diary.  I think it will help me sort through my thoughts and work through these issues.

     Now, I'm always so cautious to speak to people nicely and as happily as possible, because what if, for some reason, it is the last chance I have to speak with them? I want the good to live on, and not the bad.  
     I guess I'm trying to say that I learned a lot more than French in French class, and I couldn't be more grateful for each and every lesson. :)
     Granddaddy passed away a couple of weeks ago.  These past two years were really hard for him health-wise.  Things were difficult, not only for him, but for Nanna and Mom.  Mom drove to the hospital every day to be there with him.  She was nearly always by his side, watching and waiting to comfort him and see if he needed anything.
     I'm grateful for the opportunity I had to say goodbye to Grandaddy.  Marie and I visited him one night and told him how much we loved him.  He told us that he loved us too and he gently placed Marie's hand on his cheek.

          Mom told me that one night while she was visiting him, Granddaddy sat up in bed and hugged the space in front of him -- as if he were hugging a person.  I believe that he did hug someone.  I've been told that he was very close to his parents.
     Granddaddy lived much longer than the hospice staff told us he would.  In fact, according to them, he lived for nearly a week "too long".  Mom told me we come from a line of strong hearts.
     It's really hard for me to look at the obituary because I look at it and think, "That's my granddaddy.  He was really special.  Didn't you know that? Didn't you know him?"  
     But in my heart of hearts, I know that all the other people in the obituary must have been special, too.
     At the funeral, there was a slideshow of chronological images from Granddaddy's life.  It was beautiful, and I couldn't be more proud of him.  Those pictures are truly a slice of his life, put on display for all to celebrate and admire.
     Sometimes, it makes me wonder about my ancestors.  Who were they?  I'll bet they sure were special.  I wish I could have met them.

     Before he died, Granddaddy gave me an old family tree that he had constructed over the years, and it goes all the way back to a woman named Elizabeth Laurier in the 1700s.  Granddaddy once told me that his grandmother had diaries from our ancestors, but unfortunately, they were destroyed in a terrible house fire.  Grandaddy had the privilege of reading diaries from the first five generations in our recorded family history before the diaries were destroyed.  He told us a few stories about them over the years, but the only one I remember was about a woman named Antoinette Barnes.  Grandaddy told me she was made famous because she disguised herself as a man and played the cello to perfection. Apparently, she won many, many awards for her expertise for playing the cello, but once she declared that she was a woman in disguise, she was shunned by many in Charleston.  Sometimes I wonder if her family supported her.  I hope they did!

    I wish that I would have asked Granddaddy more about the diaries when he was still alive, but I was too young to really care much.  It makes me so sad because now I would give just about anything for the chance to read my ancestors' journals.  I wonder if my future descendants will one day read this? What a crazy thought!

     I wish my ancestors' lives could have been celebrated like my grandfather's was at his funeral.  I know they must have been amazing people too, and something tells me they did not get the recognition they deserved.
     Next summer, Mom promised to take Marie and me to Detroit to visit the house where  Elizabeth Laurier once lived.  Mom says the house is one of the few still preserved from Elizabeth Laurier's time period.  Unfortunately, the house is no longer in our family, but it is able to be toured, and don't worry: I will be taking a lot of pictures!  The house has been remodeled for minor changes a few times, but the one thing that has not changed and is supposedly what the house is known for is a clock that Elizabeth Laurier purchased, which is said to have never stopped ticking.
     I guess time never really dies.



*The Antique Legacy*
Elise Brinston

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