As told by Céline Loop to Harshita Sethia

I lost my paternal grandmother, Marie Louis Loop Lucas, on 30th December last year and jumped on a plane to attend her funeral. She was 98. We were all secretly hoping she would make it till 20th August 2024, the big 100. Grand-mamy, was very unassuming and yet such a strong woman, having raised 5 children and seen 10 of her grandchildren and 18 of her great grandchildren grow. Some used to say she was the sweetest person in the world, I can confirm she had the sweetest smile.

Her house was like a museum, an old big city house in Anderlecht, Brussels - filled with old frames, statues, paintings of ancestors we kids didn’t really know about, swords (from my Taekwondo champion grandfather) and all sorts of figurines standing in glass cupboards, we couldn’t touch. I guess she liked to keep stuff, everything, that was passed down generations, everything that reminded her of him - her husband who died too young, when she was only 45.

I used to spend time in that house, either at family reunions or when my siblings were doing activities I was too young to take part of and was sent to my lovely grandmother. That’s when I had the time to explore. That house could have been scary at times but was mostly fascinating.

The collection of hers I was the most fascinated by was her thimble collection - a thimble is an object that you put on your finger so that you don't hurt your finger while sewing. I guess in her youth, she was sewing a lot. There were hundreds of them, coming from all parts of the world, cities and countries I had never heard of. 

(Right: A picture of Céline’s grandmother Marie Louis and her collection of thimbles.) 

One would look at them like one would look at an aquarium - from across the glass. She loved her collection and would dust it very often. There were hundreds of them, coming from all parts of the world, cities and countries I had never heard of. 

When my father came to visit me recently and brought me 30 of them as a token of her cherished treasure, I was very moved. Not that I’ll have used them, but it’s a great storytelling tool to my children and perhaps their children. He also brought along a few silver spoons, another of her well kept collection, that we could observe in awe but certainly not use. That’s what I love about collections, it’s mostly useless but quite beautiful - a real treasure.

(Left: Silver spoons that Céline inherited from her grandmother.)