A Beautiful Dinner to Celebrate a Special Life

Welcome to the 255th Tablescape Thursday!

Recently, Sandi who reads BNOTP e-mailed me and shared a special table setting she had put together for her family as they gathered to celebrate the life of their 94 year old grandmother who had just passed away. A theme emerged as preparations were being made and Sandi and her daughter, Heather, called this memorial gathering, “The Legacy of the Little Things.”

Sandi said, We printed that out on the green cards for everyone to take home with them as well as the tussie mussies and the beachy note card with three of Grandmother’s best recipes on them. She was a good cook, too.”

Summer Beach Table Setting Tablescape in Green and White 7

Sandi said, “Grandmother Brown’s favorites were butterflies and the beach on Dauphin Island where they had a beach house and later a condo after the house was destroyed for the third time. The tablescape incorporates those ideas.”

Summer Beach Table Setting Tablescape in Green and White 1

The centerpiece was so beautiful with green and white flowers, an angel and the butterflies so loved by their grandmother.  It even incorporated touches of the beach with shells and coral.

Summer Beach Table Setting Tablescape in Green and White 4

I love that there’s nothing sad or depressing about this setting. It truly is a celebration of her long life. Imagine living to the age of 94!

Summer Beach Table Setting Tablescape in Green and White 5

Summer Beach Table Setting Tablescape in Green and White 3

Green and white gingham makes such a nice backdrop for the centerpiece.

Summer Beach Table Setting Tablescape in Green and White 6

Thanks so much to Sandi for sharing this lovely tribute to their grandmother whose life touched so many.

Summer Beach Table Setting Tablescape in Green and White 9


If you would like to read what Sandi’s daughter, Heather, wrote in honor of her grandmother, you’ll find it below:

The Legacy of the Little Things

My grandmother always made me mushrooms. They were (and still are) one of my most favourite foods. Whenever I would come to Birmingham and often when we arrived at DI, I would walk in the door and there would be a small pan of mushrooms sautéed in butter sitting on the stove just for me. All for me…in a family of four kids it’s pretty rare that you get something to yourself…especially when it comes to food.  I would generally walk over and grab a few straight from the pan with my fingers and she would smile and say “I made those just for you”.  We were talking about Grandmama last night as we sat around the table and I smiled a lot because as the stories unfolded I realised that each of us had a little story like that of Dora Lee…a little thing that maybe only we noticed or shared with her.  For Elisabeth time with Grandmother meant sitting on the couch together while she taught her to cross stitch, for Susan it was watching her doodle absentmindedly with her finger while she chatted or sharing cinnamon toast and tea when she was unwell.  For Chad it was the time of fellowship spent the summer he lived with them when he was in college. For Stephen it was the 24 hour full service kitchen at Dauphin Island. For Jane Ellen it was a fierce mother’s determination to be present at the birth of her grand babies far away…. for Anne a safe haven at home in The Brown House and a reassuring voice at the other end of the phone every day for years…I didn’t get a chance to talk to everyone but its clear to me that Grandmama said I love you to us with much more than her words.

My grandmother loved butterflies. They were in her house everywhere…on her cushions, her china, and, in the late 1970s, in the ubiquitous stick pin on a blazer.  She loved butterflies in her house, but she especially loved them in the yard.  She would stop whatever she was doing to point one out.  I remember spending several weeks one summer needle pointing one for her and finishing it on the ferry to Dauphin Island.  She hung that right on the wall of her kitchen and it stayed there until the day a few months ago that Annie took it down and gave it back to me.  It’s on the bookshelf in my bedroom now and when I walk past it I think about her and how she always had time to stop and look and butterflies, always had time to stop and share them with whomever was nearby. I see those butterflies and they remind me to take the time to notice. Yesterday I saw a squirrel…probably not particularly exciting for most of you but we don’t have squirrels in Australia and its always one of the first things my girls look for in the back yard here. So yesterday when my daughters called out to me because they were all excited about this cute little animal that I’ve seen a bazillion times, I got up and walked to the windows and had a good look.  I was there in that moment with them watching and you know I decided that I really do love squirrels, because squirrels mean their grandmama’s house to my girls like butterflies mean that to me.

My grandmother loved the beach at Dauphin Island. And just like she always had time to notice a butterfly, she also always had time to walk with us on the beach and look for shells.  I know that for my generation of the family some of the most joyous memories of Grandmama are tied up with the magic of summer on Dauphin Island.  Somehow Grandmama managed to feed and house a small army of ravenous teenagers, sunburnt children,  and tired parents while at the same time making each of us feel appreciated and loved for exactly who we were. As a mother I am in awe that she managed to do all of that without running out of toilet paper while simultaneously reminding us to wash our feet at the bottom of the stairs so we didn’t track sand through the house!

That’s the grandmother of our memories…I know that we lost that grandmama when her sickness took over.  We…especially Anne and Jane Ellen…have lived with that loss for a long time.  I feel so very grateful to be here today because it is a good thing to be able to share that pain and mourn that loss and to throw off the yoke of the disease that defined her last years.  Its a great thing to talk and think about who she really was…a girl who married the man she loved and kept that love alive through 70 plus years of marriage, a mother who raised two beautiful daughters who are as generous and kind as she was, a daughter in law who gave the same loving care to Dabo in her home that she gave to her own two babies, a wife who never in my recollection raised her voice (and if you knew Big Earl I imagine you understand the magnitude of that achievement), a Southern lady who exemplified the best true meaning of manners by always making the other person feel special and loved, a generous person who spent her time and energy helping others through her church and her work at the hospital, a friend whose relationships with her sister Johnnie and people like Aunt Rosemary spanned decades.  But most of all my grandmother Dora Lee Hughes Brown was a woman who understood that its the little things like butterflies, mushrooms and seashells that can teach a granddaughter like me how to be a mother, a wife and a friend.  

As it says in psalm 118, I shall not die, but live, and declare the works of The Lord – Grandmama you live on in your legacy of family, service and your love. Thank you.


Looking forward to the beautiful tablescapes linked for this Tablescape Thursday!

Tablescape Thursday


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  1. That was lovely, and proof if we play our cards right, we never truly die, but live on in the hearts and minds of our loved ones.

  2. What a lovely post Susan, her table is lovely and reminds me of something you would do, she obviously loves your crisp, fun and clever style! The gingham and daisies are such a homey touch with the butterflies and shells. Hard not to smile and shed a little tear at the same time πŸ™‚

  3. What a lovely tribute, such poignant words, and they evoke such clear images in the mind of this loving family. Thank her for me for sharing.

  4. Susan, what a wonderful thing to share, both in the physical beauty of the centerpiece and in the words that she wrote!

  5. pam ~ crumpety cottage says

    How lovely to be loved so dearly and regarded with such respect. Thanks to Sandi for sharing that. I’m sorry for her loss, but I’m sure she realizes what a lucky family she has to have had such a beloved matriarch.

  6. Susan,
    What a touching tribute to Sandi’s Grandmother’s life!
    I adore black, white and green color combination for tablescaping.
    These hues are extrememly tranquil!
    The blending of the green & white gingham grounds this entire tablescape.
    Each detailed accessory adds to the ethereal effect and brings a sense of comfort
    and peace to this tablescape.
    Thank you for hosting Tablescape Thursday each week, dear friend!

  7. What a beautiful table and beautiful written tribute to a woman who obviously lived a life of love and adventure. So touching. Thanks for sharing it, Susan. laurie

  8. What a beautiful testament to Sandi’s Grandmother. And it is truly a lovely tablescape, especially with the butterflies that were so special to her.

    Living to be 94 is celebration, indeed.

    May she rest in Peace, and that Sandi’s faith sustains her as she heals from her loss.

    Hoe you are having fun at Haven, too, Susan. Enjoy yourself! Wish I were there with you all!

  9. Susan,
    thank you for sharing this beautiful tribute to Sandi’s grandmother. It brought back sweet memories of my own grandmother and reminded me of all the small things she did that meant so much…and thanks for hosting this party..
    Love, Mona

  10. Susan, the legacy of little things, indeed. Whenever I see green and white gingham, I am always reminded of a dress that my mother made me, when I was a little girl. This entire post is a dedication of those who have come before us and meant so much in our lives. Sandi’s table is a special tribute to a woman who she obviously knew well. Sandi paid attention to the little things about her grandmother. I imagined that she listened to her, as well. Such a dear post – thank you for sharing!

  11. She just smiled, you know. franki

  12. Weeping sweet tears. Lovely centerpiece. Thanks for inviting us for a peak and for hosting us each week. Cherry Kay

  13. Your dear Grandmama was an amazing lady.
    Mine passed over in 1982 and I still miss her and our friendship. After reading your blog, I called my mom and we took a trip down our family memory lane.

  14. I am so choked up – this is so touching. The combination of apple-green and white is a wonderful.

  15. The most touching, heart-felt, lovely post EVER! This family is twice blessed: They were blessed to have had such a special lady in their lives, and they KNOW it. Thank you for sharing this beautiful tribute!

  16. What a beautiful table and tribute:-) Thanks for hosting Susan!

  17. Hi Susan and what a wonderful table and a wonderful tribute.
    Thank you for hosting.
    Be a sweetie,
    Shelia πŸ˜‰

  18. What a lovely story about a sweet woman and her legacy.

    The story evoke memories of a quick drive to Dauphin Island my husband and I made when we were in Biloxi for a wedding. It seemed like a magical spot.

  19. Thank you, thank you, thank you for this post today. The words which Heather wrote stuck such a cord in my heart at a time in my life when loss is so present. I have also been fortunate to have had wonderful grandparents, parents, sisters and family, and I miss the ones who have gone on. Like everyone, I suppose, I search for the reasons to get up each day and do all the mundane things and wonder if anything will be remembered. Heather has reminded me that my time now as a grandmother is so important to the next generation. I hope I can pass on this spirit of love and family. Thanks for all you posts and all the beauty you inspire.
    Peggy – from the mountains of NC

  20. Oh, what a FABULOUS arrangements with the green apples and shells…totally amazing!!! This is a happy and beautiful tribute to a wonderful lady! Thank you for for sharing, dear Susan. Thank you for this special TT party. too.
    Big hugs,

  21. Susan, this is a lovely idea and one that is inspiring me with ideas for my mom’s upcoming 99th birthday in October. Thank you for sharing this special tribute.

  22. The essay on the grandmother brought tears to my eyes. It was beautifully written. What a wonderful legacy to leave her beloved grandchildren, including specially cooked mushrooms! Thanks so much for sharing. Susan

  23. Thanks for sharing..this is such a WonderFul idea..much nicer then the luncheon at the church hall afterwards..my mom’s would have been held in the garden with soft crabs..steamed crabs..her coleslaw & hot German potato salad..iced tea and plenty of cakes & pies..Oh My

  24. What a wonderful life celebration for an obviously amazing woman. I would only pray that I could be one tenth the woman that Sandi’s grandma was. It sounds as though she has left many women behind who are following in her footsteps. I am so sorry for your loss, Sandi. I am praying for you and for your family.

  25. What a lovely tribute to an obviously well-loved family member! The table setting was a perfect reflection of the lady they were honoring and I’m sure she was smiling down from Heaven at her loving family gathered in her memory! Thanks for sharing with us – now where’s my Kleenex??!


  26. Oh Susan, what a beautiful post. Such a wonderful woman, mother and grandma to her family. Thank you for sharing.

  27. It’s alovely tablescape and a great hommage to a nice lady.

  28. What a sweet sentiment and lovely tribute.

  29. I don’t know who Sandy is but this was absolutely beautiful and the tablescape was simple but elegant. I would have never pictured the gingham fabric could be so lovely. Her Grandmother would have loved seeing all the butterflies that are out this summer on my Coneflowers and tall garden phlox..we have enjoyed watching them, sometimes as many as 6 large ones on the coneflowers near the front door and the others are on the tall garden phlox plant behind the coneflowers. This tribute to Sandy’s Grandmother touched me greatly. I am going to save this and show it to my daughter and my grandchildren. I would love for my grandchildren to write something special to me before I die of all the special memories I tried to create for them. I never had any relationship with my grandparents because the one that was alive lived over 600 or 700 miles away. I only recall seeing her maybe 1/2 dozen times in my lifetime. My Father’s Mother died before I was born.
    Please thank Sandy for sharing this with us. It truly was a celebration of life.

  30. What a beautiful tribute. Daisy theme is so pretty.

    Thanks for hosting.


  31. That has got to be one of the most touching & memorable ways to celebrate the life of a woman who was much loved! How beautiful everything looks with the pretty shades of apple green & white. Just lovely!

    Thank you for hosting TT again, Susan & please tell Sandi ‘thank you’ for sharing this touching moment in the passing of her grandmother.

  32. What a wonderful celebration of life and a beautiful tribute to a loving grandmother. The table setting is gorgeous. We just celebrated my mom’s 95th birthday with a week long family reunion in Fl, where I still am right now….Christine

  33. What a beautiful tribute to love given and received. The tablescape looked happy and bright and I feel that Grandmother would have appreciated it.
    Thank you for sharing Susan.

  34. charlotte says

    Thank you, Susan for sharing with all of us the sweet and touching celebration of this beautiful life. What an amazing lady! What a legacy she leaves behind! And how blessed she was to share her days on this earth with such a loving family! Sandi, Heather, thank you.
    As a grandmother myself, I am inspired by her story.
    The tablescape is so beautiful and personal. A lot of love obviously went into the planning!
    Cannot delete this one….has to be saved.

  35. This beautiful tribute, in words and pictures, brought me to tears! thanks for sharing it! If you can believe it, my family shared a 104th birthday of a cousin of mine yesterday! She is a walking history book! Incredible, love this, and thank you for sharing!

  36. So enjoyed Sandi’s lovely table for her grandmother. I sent you a note, a few weeks ago about white or cream vintage or antique handled flatware. Noticed in the picture of the table a place setting with the exact flatware that I have been looking for. Would you be able to contact Sandi, and ask her where the flatware was bought, and who is the maker? I certainly don’t want to offend her, knowing that she lost her grandmother recently, but this would be so helpfull to me, and I truly love the flatwear. So hope to hear from you. Thanks, Liz

    • Sandi Lee says

      Thank you so much. The fork and knife are antique Mother of Pearl and made in England more than likely. I have had them for ages-usually they are called a fruit set or dessert set. I bought these at an antique store or maybe Don Scott’s in Atlanta many years ago. You can find similar ones on Ebay-just put in Mother of Pearl flatware.

  37. The best deterrent to children disconnecting from family is pure and truthful love…Sandi’s grandmama loved them well and led by serving, very recognizable to women of faith. When women with a moral imperative teach their daughters and grands to live life and “do” life with love, gratitude and an attitude of great expectations, we end up creating homes and porches where plenty of love is served up, memories and connections made, and life is sweeter than we ever imagined. I, too, had a grandmother who lived long and well…we put on her hats, gloves and all that great sparkly jewelry to honor her and had her favorite new found food – pizza! – when all the women of the family met to clean out that big farmhouse. We wanted to be like her, love like her, serve and create homes like she did and she lovingly showed us that she operated from a faith basis…all the love shaping us to do good things and desire fun and honorable lives…on the porch and out in the real world! Thank you Sandi for taking time to write, it is a precious & detailed gift you have given BNOTP readers. You are your Grandmama’s girl πŸ™‚

  38. Susan, thanks for sharing the celebration of a life well-lived. I’m not sure if this was at Sandi’s home, but I did notice the 3 tier table with all the cups and saucers. I’m wondering if the table is set that way for the celebration or is it always that way for displaying the lovely china cups and saucers. That is the second time, that I recall seeing one set that way. I’ve had a 3 tier table for several years and have struggled with just the right items to place on it. Thanks for any info.

  39. What a beautiful table and a beautiful story! Thank you so much for sharing it Susan! You’re right…there was nothing depressing about that table and what a beautiful tribute to a lovely woman. πŸ™‚

  40. That was truly lovely to read. There are still good people in the world if we just take a moment to stop and look!
    Beth P

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