My mother was a simple woman who married young and started having children right away. She was from a large family herself, and this was all she imagined for her future, to be a wife and homemaker in the rural Missouri area close to her mom and siblings. Life was hard for her, though, my dad had recurring health issues which put him in and out of the hospital on many occasions, and when he worked, even if he brought hom a decent salary, it never seemed to stretch far enough to keep up with the needs of the eventual eight children they produced.
I was the second child mom delivered. When I was growing up, Mom was too busy wondering which child needed the next pair of shoes the worse to be able to buy pretty things for the house. Most of her home decorating involved determining where to arrange the furniture when the rain started leaking through the ceiling. She had a few items she treasured, one of these was a large wood steamer trunk we always referred to as the Civil War chest. Supposedly it was a relic from that period, but for us it served as coffee table and mom's hope chest. It was where she kept a precious small collection of crystal serving trays and delicate tea towels. Ever so often I would see her take them out and lovingly look through them, then pack them up neatly away from the reach of grubby, clumsy small hands.