Last week my Dad turned 84 and to celebrate we gathered for brunch at Wild Eggs in Middletown. It was just the five of us: Dad, my three sisters and me.
Afterwards we went back to Dad's house and down into his basement where my mom's silver flatware was spread out on the pool table. Dad wanted us to have it and so we figured out how to split it up among the four sisters.
I ended up with my maternal grandmother's silver. Now, rest assured, amassing flatware is not on my list of things I'm interested in doing. In fact, I've not used my own silver forks and spoons since moving out to the farm. They are just too fancy for our simple life out here.
But I was delighted to take home a wooden box full of Grandmommy's flatware. I'm not sure what I want to do with it. Use it everyday?, or just for special occasions? Put it away with my own silver? Store it for one of my children to someday (hopefully) want?
The box sat on our kitchen counter all week. The silver had not been used in years and was dark with tarnish. It seemed disrespectful not to at least clean it up. So today, I polished it. I polished each fork, spoon, and knife. I polished each iced tea spoon and each cocktail fork. And with each piece, I thought about Grandmommy. I thought about how her hands had held and polished each piece. I thought about how she must have planned elaborate parties that started with shrimp cocktails (yes, I have her shrimp cocktail bowls somewhere in my basement). I thought about how she had hand washed each piece, drying it, and placing it in the right slot in the red velvet lined box. I was mindful of her and her legacy as I worked my way through the box.
I watched as each piece transformed from near black to gleaming silver. I admired the hand engraved initials on each piece. I discovered some featured her initials: MER, and some had her mother's: LMB. A few pieces were not engraved at all. Did she obtain those later and just never bothered (or couldn't afford) to have them engraved? Why did she have so many spoons and so few forks and knives? What did she use for serving pieces? I was lost in the past.
The pieces are now back in their box, gleaming. Ready for someone, someday, to unpack them and use them. I do hope they serve shrimp cocktails...