I remember that fateful day in my thirties when my mother’s hand exited the sleeve of the sweater that I was pulling on. It gave me the strangest feeling since I knew that it was actually my hand and, yet, it was hers. That quick haunting has stayed with me all these years. Recognizing it as a normal occurrence, I never said anything to anyone. It would probably have been forgotten except that it happened again. No, not with my hand but with my stuff.
Finally, there are places in my home to put the stuff I love. It isn’t of value to anyone but me. Some items were collected by my mother, some by Leo and I during our marriage, and some my kids made. Each piece has a little story that I tell myself as I hold it. There are a lot of good memories in those pieces. They are given a place of honor in the china cabinet where I can see them daily. As I look at it, the light bulb went on that this is why grandmothers and mothers have all those dust catchers in their houses. They aren’t just collectibles, but rather their lives displayed for one and all to see.
There are families who have valuable assets, but none are as precious as these few things I have kept. There sits a replica of Rodin’s The Thinker. It’s dinged here and there, but retains the beauty that my brother saw when he purchased it. It is the only thing I have that was his. This and a few pictures are all that remain to mark his short life. There is the lidded jar that Leo bought when he went to Peru with the Marine Corps. We were typical newlyweds having almost nothing to start out our lives. He gave me that jar with a written promise inside to someday buy me some nice china. Like Leo, that note is gone, but the memory remains.
So, to all you youngsters who shake your heads in wonder at all the stupid things your parents have, know that they aren’t just things but a slice out of their life. Go ahead, flatter them and ask what the story behind it is. I wish I had known this way back when and had asked.