Mom is staying with me for a month, our time almost up. She’ll be 93 in January … time marches on, whether we like it or not. My Dad left for Heaven on Thanksgiving weekend five years ago at 88. He loved Mom with a pure heart; he wrote her poems on special occasions like Mother’s Day and anniversaries. Dad loved to surprise her because she has always been such an audacious receiver. There is no one more fun to give to than Mom, where each gift is the best thing she’s ever gotten; each meal the best she’s ever eaten! His smile was the widest when he was pleasing her. He was a good husband. He was a good father.
Today was one of those gray, lazy Saturdays. I had nothing on my agenda (which was just fine with me), but Mom had different plans. The breakfast room wall of silver was a pestering presence this morning (photo below). Macular degeneration has dimmed her eyes, but she can still see pretty shiny things, and to her dismay, the silver was not shiny enough.
This wall of silver is a memory wall. As we shined the pieces, we talked about who gave me what piece, some I regretfully admit I can’t even remember—wedding gifts from 49 years ago. Others more recently acquired were gifts from friends and family for this small new home we now enjoy. Still, other things are from a trip to France we took fourteen years ago with my childhood friend and her husband. Time is marching.
The trip began in Paris, and then we drove south for several days, staying in small towns such as Avignon. The provincial atmosphere was so different from the bright lights of Paris. We stayed in small villages, Aix de Provence being one, where we found a flea market. Two carving sets on the left and right of the wall in the photograph are from that market. We wondered what type of family might have owned them and used them for family dinners; we wondered why they were sold and not carefully tucked away for future generations.
The very center piece of the silver wall arrangement is a shadow box displaying five pins. These pins are actually silver coat-of-arms insignias from different provinces of France: Cannes, Nice, Marseilles, Aix de Provence and the fifth is the fleur-de-lis emblem representing the country of France. They were also for sale at the flea market, haphazardly dropped into a little cardboard box. As I studied each pin, I was excited to discover such a find, and at a very reasonable rate. After I returned home, the idea of a shadow box seemed to be the perfect resting spot for these pins. In another smaller box on the mantel, there is a turn-of-the-20th-century silver chain coin purse—all these treasures from a simple flea market on Cezanne in Aix.
This talk of France, and the repetition of the pronunciation of Aix de Provence to Mom several times—took her back to the trip she and Dad made to Paris long before C.J. and I went. Mom was an artist, so Dad wanted to take her to The Louvre (on a U.S. postal employee’s salary). Oh, how she loved that trip. It was not a gastronomic feast that she remembered, but a feast for the eyes which still captivated her thoughts.
Dad bought a book on the French language so they could at least learn a few phrases for their trip. She mused how much fun it had been to learn and how they laughed as they tried to carry on a conversation in French. When they returned home, Dad enrolled in a French class at the community college. She said he came home one day telling her how pretty the professor was, “that French teacher,” and Mom retorted, “get on outta here; I bet she was ugly as a mud fence!” She, of course, was laughing as she told me—I can just see them bantering back and forth.
All the talk about France and enjoying our newly-shined silver pieces prompted Mom to ask why I never used them for serving dinner to friends. That led me to wonder why I never used the silverware I was given when we were married. When we opened the silver cloths from the safe, to my amazement, there were pieces I did not remember. As we inspected each piece, we found two patterns. I had totally forgotten that we inherited C.J.’s mom’s silver when she passed away. What a treasure!
So, this Thanksgiving, as my son and daughter and families gather for the great feast, we will be using C.J.’s mom’s silver. It was my Mom who helped me remember that we need to bring out the finest for our friends and families, and that even these “things” which we are instructed not to “lay up as treasures on this earth” can still be beautiful reminders of the important people in our lives. They can be the stimulus for new memories just like mine, made on a gray, lazy Saturday.
As we celebrate Thanksgiving, I hope you are surrounded by those you love. I hope you make new memories, and that they will resurface at just the right time when you need them the most.
Time is Fleeting
Make Memories Now
Rest—We are Happier When We Are Refreshed
Nourish Body and Soul
Engage Others with Smiles and Laughter