It’s not the items you own, the things you leave, rather the way your life is lived that creates your legacy.

A spool of thread, a thimble, a scrap of delicate fabric, a marble topped side table, an embossed fur coat, a diamond ring. They are the “things” that are left of my maternal grandmother, my Nana, Emily Ann Mancuso. These things are simple, sweet, and even very valuable. But these items did not define her, rather she defined them.

I was only 3 years old when she passed away, my Nana only 57. My beautiful and strong mother, gathered herself, held on to her babies, reached deep down within, to a place that only God occupies, with her eyes to the sky, and proceeded into a life that she had only ever known with her Mother, her best friend by her side. These items were among the things that remained of her mother. But it isn’t these items that have gone with her through her life, or with me through mine, rather the extraordinary woman who’s these things belonged to.

A fashionista before it was a thing. A designer, before this job was identified by that name. A creator of beautiful and extravagant food, before being “foodie” was an adjective and an entrepreneur in a time and culture where women did not do these things — a true renaissance woman.

She did nothing “small,” everything was extravagant in the ordinary. Thrift store finds, became items that all of her friends wanted to know where she got, how could it cost so little, yet look like a million bucks on you. A shopping trip to New York City, was followed by days of additional packages arriving to her home, embossed with her name on the inside of furs and hats, and Italian leather bags.

My Pop often told a story of himself arriving home from a business trip to find a commercial flour truck parked out in front of their house delivering bulk flour. She had decided in the three days he had been gone that she was going to start a pasta making company! And so she did.

When she was in her 20’s, and money was scarce, my grandfather came home and told her he had gotten her a job as a seamstress. She cried! She had no idea how to sew! Every day she went to this elderly woman’s home, and silently and secretly studied the woman sew. She would then go back to her machine and repeat what she had just seen. This is how she began her career in design! She did residential work for many years, and in her 40’s she and my grandfather, who was also a successful salesman, partnered up and officially started The Golden Rule drapery shop. During this time they made all of the drapery for large popular commercial properties downtown, The Hotel Utica, The Stanley Theater. I think of this type of drive and passion, and I am inspired on the days I don’t feel like hustling, would rather stay in and fold laundry with my coffee, or am just not feeling creative.

She helped to make peoples houses, into homes when people didn’t have the type of affluence that is common today. She made meals memorable, with her creative takes on simple dishes, her hilarious antics, and wild comedy. She made simple homes peaceful and comfortable with very little at first, more as time when on. She created a home and a life filled with love, that demonstrated her deep faith in God, she walked her talk, she loved, she gave, she worked, she learned, she listened, she laughed and made everyone else around her laugh. She did all of this with style, with beauty, with grace. She was timeless, she is Timeless Interiors. And I can’t wait to see her again and show her how I’ve tried to live out her legacy, of love, of faith, of family, and of making the ordinary just a little bit more beautiful.