That one special thing.
My grandfather played the violin and loved music. He had a stroke when I was a toddler, so I never really knew him that well. Never really got close to him, except when he would sit on the piano bench and help me through a piece of music that I had trouble with.
Grandpa was an engineer and a professional violinist. Music was his passion. He played violin for the St. Louis Symphony orchestra until a tragic accident at the plant he worked at sliced off his thumb on his right hand. His heart broke. He could no longer play the violin. He lost his job during the depression because of the accident. As I look back on those times, I think grandpa was depressed. But, oh how he loved grandma. And I always wanted to have a marriage like grandma and grandpa.
So, you might say, what does that have to do with your opening phrase, that one special thing. Well, grandma and grandpa lived in a little brick house. And on top of the refrigerator there was a pitcher and six steins made of ceramic. The pitcher and steins were shades of yellow and brown and had Franciscan monks painted on them. Monks playing a fiddle, drinking from a pitcher, Monks surrounded by branches. And those monks looked so peaceful and had such personality. Grandma never used them, they were for display only. They were given to her by her grandpa.
When grandma passed away in 1996 my mom inherited the pitcher and steins and they sat on her refrigerator in our finished basement. Every time I would visit mom, I’d see them and they would remind me of grandma and grandpa. I’d smile and recall grandpa sitting in his easy chair listening to Nat King Cole with the TV turned on with no sound. I’d remember grandma making us sugar water tea and serving it to us kids in pretty little glasses. I remember walking around grandma’s yard, such a peaceful place with flowers and birds and butterflies. But, most of all I remember how that pitcher and those six steins made me feel so happy.
Dad died in 2008 and mom was looking to downsize. She wanted to give my sister and I things that we wanted before she died. She was visiting my house and we were about to take her home when she asked me what I wanted. I said, “mom I really don’t want anything other than the pitcher and steins that were grandma and grandpa’s.” Mom was so happy and said, “well then, when you take me home I’m going to give those to you.”
I told her she could keep them for a while, but she was adamant that I should have them. So, we packed them up in newspaper and I brought them home.
I had just purchased an oak hutch for my kitchen and knew exactly where their new home was going to be. I unwrapped each one. The two with the monk playing the fiddle. I thought of grandpa and his love for music and the violin. The two with the monk drinking from a pitcher. I thought visits to grandpa and grandma’s and how grandma made each visit special. The two with the monk surrounded by greenery, and thought of grandma’s park-like backyard. I washed each piece and put them on the shelf in my hutch. Their home was no longer on a refrigerator top, but this new home was equally special. I was able to glance at them everyday.
I’m sure mom had lots of things that were worth more money, but nothing held a more special place in my heart.
My first husband passed away after 30 years of marriage. I met a wonderful guy and we married in 2010. He gave up his home and moved into mine. As we unpacked his belongings he came across a green bowl and smiled. He said, this was my mom’s. It’s just a simple sea green bowl with ridges, but Steve remembers his mom using it. It’s special to him, I can tell. So, I took the little green bowl and put it on a shelf in the hutch.
It’s funny how we hold on to the simplest things. It doesn’t matter their dollar amount. That pitcher and steins are worth a million in memories. Steve’s mom’s green bowl brings back days of old. The hutch is filled with memories, and memories keep the past alive.