She must have been hovering in my unconscious.
I laughed at something Tim said and Mama Addie’s laugh echoed back from my own throat. Do I sound like her? Or is she just visiting and sharing in the humor? That thought chugged through as I washed up dishes in the sink.
Lazy Saturday morning light seeped into the kitchen. The sink full of the usual, it’s-Friday-night-and-I-cannot-even-think-of-doing-any-of-these-dishes-now load. The foamy, soapy water tried its best to soften the cemented food crud. I labored at the tower of dishes, yellow rubber gloves protecting my dry, rash prone hands.
The sink bottom finally came into view as I picked up the last dish. I saved an easy one for the end, a large crystal platter, one that had been Mama Addie’s. The cookie crumbs and butter grease nearly scrubbed off when my grip failed. I watched in horror as it fell the immense distance of two inches and hit the cavernous bottom of my porcelain sink. In slow motion the platter disintegrated.
Broken. Her platter in pieces.
She did not gift it to me. It wasn’t some important heirloom passed down through the generations. I had just snagged it when a box of her old stuff was passing through the family members. I don’t even remember her using it. The platter very well may have been on every single holiday buffet table through the years or it may have remained in her cupboard, I wouldn’t know. You see, when she prepared a meal for us, you noticed the food, not the vessels. Her art studio was in the kitchen; her gallery, the dining room table.
I don’t have any memories associated with her and the platter together, but it had been hers and now it was mine. A physical piece, something to hold that whispered my grandmother back to me.
Fancy china cabinets are absent from my house. They don’t take up any restricted space. You won’t find any heirlooms displayed on a high shelf. My philosophy is to use what I have, that in addition to the truth that dusting is torturous and I’m allergic to it. This is what led me to bring homemade snickerdoodles to a backyard barbecue on my grandmother’s crystal. I like the reminder that memories aren’t always fancy and locked behind glass. They get to tag along with us to the friendly get-togethers. Dirty children come in after rolling around in the warm Summer dirt to leave black smudges as they steal one more cookie behind mom’s back. The adults absentmindedly pair cheap beer together with a buttery handheld dessert. Everyone is too occupied with conversation and the warmth of those around them to ooh and ahh over a platter. That’s how it’s supposed to be.
I stood there, alone in the kitchen, frozen and in shock. The platter in a million shards. Tears arrived and cascaded down my hot, tingly cheeks. Why would anyone install a porcelain sink? Who does that? A stupid person, for sure. Can I fix it? Can I repurpose the razor sharp fragments? Is there some sort of super human glue that will hold all the minute particles together again? How did this even happen?
Reality and reason set in. I knew the platter was gone; I felt sick. Carefully, I gathered all the bigger pieces and set them slowly in the recycle bin. Is crystal recycleable? Who knows, but that’s where they went anyway. The little pieces and crystal dust were harder to remove. Some ended up deep in the garbage disposal. I cringed in fear, as one does when you have to stick body parts down the knife laden drain hole. No horror movie scene ensued , thank goodness, and the platter pieces were cleaned up and thrown away.
The monotonous clean up helped me process. Relief came in the realization that it was only the platter that broke. My memories of Mama Addie were not broken. Our history did not lay in pieces in my sink. She would still be with me, even after Waste Management came to tip our blue bin into their truck.
Actually, the brokenness and the roller coaster of emotions that came after were gifted to me. They stood as evidence that proved I’m alive and she is still speaking into my future. My Mama Addie came along with me and my family to that backyard barbecue. She laughed and enjoyed every minute of it with us. She will come along to the next gathering even though the platter is absent. The crystal was just a container for cookies and a trip down memory lane. The platter broke, but our love and our history remain whole.