Cherishing Things

IMG_2282Our room is comforting to me. It feels like home even though we’ve only been in it a little while. There are two large windows overlooking the street with a large tree shading them. Birds sing in the morning. The place is new to us, but there is a comfort in what we kept and brought with us. On the bed is the brightly embroidered bedspread we never intended to buy on our trip to visit our daughter and son-in-law when they were working in India. IMG_2279On the window sill sits a ceramic man who used to stand on a swing until it rotted years ago. It was a present from our friend Judy, who lived near us in three very different places – Detroit, California and Florida. It reminds me that friendships last despite distance.

Over my dresser hangs an art plate my father gave my mother when they were friends even after divorce. It depicts a Native American mother holding a child. It connects me to my mother and her love of the West, to my and her vocation as a mother, to my broken and precious family of origin, to how passionately I love our children and grandchildren. Sitting on my dresser is an old lamp that belonged to Bill’s mother. The base is a sea scene painted on frosted glass. The shade also has a sea scene. I think of her when I look at it and remember how very much she loved us.

IMG_2280All of this makes me think about how we were taught so dualistically – spirit and matter being different. Many of our religious traditions encourage us not to be attached to things. And yet, the things we brought with us to our one room mediate the spirit for me. I feel surrounded by the love that is somehow present even in these material things.

What things would you bring?

16 thoughts on “Cherishing Things

  1. Keep writing! Keep posting! ~Reminds me of when I lived in a tent under an oak tree overlooking the chow hall at Omega. Three wonderful months in a very small space. My choices were even more whittled down by necessity: Tshirts, earrings, scarves, books, bandanas, sunhats. Books mildewed quickly in the first 17 days of rain; Tshirts wore the look of my daily garden work; earrings became mismatched due to loss of one or another; bandanas faded and frayed as the summer wore on. And then little piles of special rocks, feathers, galls and bones began to fill the corners. I guess I like my Stuff as much as the other materialists. I just don’t purchase it at Walmart.

  2. Thirteen years ago I received a homemade birthday card from my dad. He had painted a small watercolor, folded the paper in half and written a poem on the inside. I had it framed and it has moved with me ever since always getting a prime spot on the wall. The poem is a reminder of my friendship with Dad; the painting reminds me that we’re never too old to follow a dream.

  3. I’d bring every letter Jay wrote to me. I’d bring the card from our daughters when they were in elementary school that said, “I love Mommy and Daddy, my dog, swimming and spaghetti.” I’d bring the chalice my parents used at their 25th anniversary mass, which was later used at our wedding, their 50th anniversary and our 25th. I’d bring my great-grandmother’s silver tea spoons, which, as the wife of a steel mill worker, was the only gift of value she had from her wedding. She clung to them even through the depression when she knew selling them could mean a few meals for her family. And photos. Every single photo. That’s it. We’d be happy. Keep posting Carol and Bill; can’t wait for the book!- Kate Coleman

  4. I’d bring my great-grandfather’s rocking chair, the blue glass starfish my husband gave me after a romantic trip to the Pacific Rim and the little table my dad refinished and gave me just before he died.

  5. I’m having a hard time letting go of my mom’s things — even though I would never have bought a ceramic bird or Venetian aperitif cups….my daughter Annie says to take a picture and toss them, but I like your idea of inviting my children over to pick out what they would like and then…maybe I’ll have the courage to begin the downsizing process!

    • Thanks, Deanne. People suggested we take pictures of things, too, but I didn’t really want pictures of things. I’m realizing my mother gave us a good example. When she was in her early 70s she had all three of her children over to divvy up many of her things. It was really fun for her and us to do that while she was still alive.

  6. Just recently I sat in my room and reflected on the things that had “made the cut” in a recent move. One piece that holds the eye and heart is the milk glass vase with painted violets that reminds me of my mother and my sisters. It was a gift from Marny to my mother when I was a child of eight years. At the time I was enthralled with the simple beauty of it and found reasons to got my mother’s dresser to look at it. In the eighties I had it filled with artificial violets for my sister Ann-Marie when she was ill. Now I have it. There is also a strange looking bird from South Africa on my windowsill that makes me smile and reminds me of my friend Carol who brought it to me and whom I look forward to seeing soon!

  7. Dearest Carol, Aunt Carol, pretend mom,

    I don’t carry many memories of childhood or the objects that lived within it. My doll Drowsy. A tacky bowl of fake fruit Scott used to get me to try to eat (a trickster, that one!).
    Interesting that one of the vivid images in my mind of an object was in your house on Litchfield. On the wall in the (dining room?) – at least I remember eating a grilled cheese near this item and being so disappointed when you served us quiche, I think, and though it looked like a pie to my little girl eyes it sure wasn’t sweet. Anyway, the object was a bright blue swish of a bird by Picasso, I think. A blue so alive inside it’s white home it’s what I see when I remember the safest and warmest place I knew as a child. I love you.

    • Caroline, I had forgotten about that bird – thanks for calling the image to mind again. You were such an important part of our lives and it was so wonderful always to have you in our house. I love you too.

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