When my mom moved into a nursing home, the little bits and pieces of her former life were packed up and brought to my house “for storage”. This implies a temporary solution and that some day she would reclaim her possessions. But I knew that would never happen.
I don’t hang onto things I no longer need or want. I was on the Marie Kondo bandwagon long before it was a bandwagon. At first though, out of respect for my mom, I couldn’t part with her things. But every so often I sift through the boxes and decide which things to keep, which to donate and which to throw out. Slowly the stack of boxes is dwindling.
Most recently, I came across the lone survivor of a set of six liqueur glasses. I picked it up and remembered how much I loved them when I was a kid, even though they were only for company. They were delicate and fragile, but what I loved most about them was the Canada goose in full flight etched in frosted glass on either side.
The glasses would only be pulled from the cupboard of “good dishes” when we had guests and my father offered them a glass of crème de menthe. He didn’t speak French very well, despite having married a French Canadian woman, so he had trouble pronouncing the name of the liqueur properly. He would leave my mother to entertain the company in the living room while he went to the kitchen to get the drinks. I’d watch him carefully pour the bright green, syrupy-sweet liqueur into the glasses then place them on a silver tray and carry them to waiting guests.
My father was a veteran of the Royal Canadian Air Force who had been posted overseas during World War II. I have his logbook and I’ve read his entries, so I know he saw death and destruction while sitting, strapped and trapped, in the seat of a small plane. Like many veterans, he never spoke about the war. I sometimes wonder if he struggled to reconcile the images in his head with his post-war life that included a wife, three kids, a modest home and serving crème de menthe to guests. The memory alone of him calmly and with a steady hand pouring drinks for guests earns the glass a place in my “keep” pile.
Sometimes I am too hasty to part with things so I was glad when a lamp I loved found its way back to me. I bought it soon after we moved into our current house about 19 years ago. I saw it in a quaint little village gift shop and fell in love with it. There were two in the store, but I only needed one so, with a pang of regret, I bought one and left its partner behind.
A few weeks later my husband was lying on the couch when he stretched his arms out behind him and knocked the lamp off the pine side table where I had placed it. It came crashing down into so many pieces there was no hope of gluing them back together.
So, down we marched to the little gift shop. My fingers were crossed that the other lamp was still there. And it was! It lit up our living room until we re-decorated and it didn’t mesh with the new furniture. I can’t remember how it happened, but it found a new home with a good friend. I was happy someone else – someone close to me – could appreciate and use it.
Recently, she redecorated too and asked if I wanted it back. Of course I did! I found the perfect place for it on the nightstand in my bedroom. Not only can I admire it, but every night, happily propped up on my pillows, I can read by the soft glow of its light.