Saturday, December 09, 2006

Parting with Things

I sometimes wonder if things have a given life span just as people do. I still have such a hard time parting with things when their life is over.

My mother gave me this painted sand dollar from Panama City, where I grew up, around the time I got married in 1976. Since that day it has sat on my mantle on a small gold easel just its size.

Suddenly as we ate dinner with friends a couple of weeks ago, it toppled off its forever perch and shattered into many pieces. There was not a dog or a person to blame for the accident. It simply fell, which seemed rather odd to me. Was it a sudden draft or the heat from the fireplace underneath or some other force that propelled the little sand dollar to the floor?

My first inclination was to repair it – to collect all the pieces and simply glue them back together. But have you ever examined the inside of a sand dollar? It’s filled with little surprises shaped like birds. It’s very difficult if not impossible to put a broken sand dollar back together. I tried Super Glue to no avail. It would never look quite the same anyway because it’s still missing some little pieces.

The little easel sits empty as a reminder of what it lost. I’m sorry to see it go, but I’m trying not to be so attached to things. They are just inanimate pieces of material, or are they?


Anonymous Anonymous said...

When we moved to DC, I came ahead to start my job and Frank stayed for the movers. I called him shortly after I got to DC and told him to stop packing because the movers would do it. He had packed a lot of the glassware but not my mother's 2 foot high Waterford crystal vase. A week later there was a tremendous earthquake in LA (January 1994) and it was shattered. And so was I.......but there was nothing to be done. My husband and children were not hurt and that was obviously more important. But that beautiful vase.....

9:26 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ah, yes. I have been on a multi-year one-at-the-time cleansing frenzy.

10:32 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ah, yes. I have been on a multi-year one-at-the-time cleansing frenzy.

10:36 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ah, yes. I have been on a multi-year one-at-the-time cleansing frenzy.

10:39 AM  
Blogger Kristin said...

Last night, I had a few friends over for a holiday get-together. I broke a glass from a vinyard that no longer exists, Byrd broke a candleholder from my sister and Kayla broke one of my great-grandmother's glasses.

I set my damage aside. Byrd handed me cash, though I tried (repeatedly) to refuse, and Kayla was very, very upset. I told her that the glasses were meant to be used, that she was far more important to me than the glass.

I meant it.

12:59 PM  
Blogger Barbara said...

Kate and Kristin -- Good lessons from both of you. Yes, people are the important thing. It doesn't mean that we won't miss those things which must now live only in our memories...

OL -- Does this mean you ration one thing a year to the forces of destruction?

3:08 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Everything - EVERYTHING - in my childhood was alive and had feelings, from the poor little peas left on my plate to the glass marbles with which I loved to play. Dolls and toys talked and moved about under cover of darkness, and even the chalk dust from my slate flew off into the air to become angel's breath. If something was broken or lost, I was inconsolable. I remember those days of intense feeling but I'm more grown up about my losses now. Do things have a life span? You bet. What i always wondered was, did my things miss me as much as I missed them...

5:06 PM  
Blogger Barbara said...

Pauline -- Well said. You've totally captured my attraction to things and my grief at their loss. I always assumed I was the only one who felt so strongly.

5:23 PM  
Blogger Mother of Invention said...

Well, seeing as one of my weird things about me was naming inanimate objects and giving them human qualities, yes, they seem to have life my fanciful mind. I can see in reality they are just things and the memories are the most important. I do hang onto things far longer than most. (As if the kid who gave me that pig salt and pepper shaker 20 years ago is going to wonder where it's gone!)

11:23 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh, that's much too organized for me! But I do try to have a garage sale once a year

10:42 AM  

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