Recently, we moved my mom out of her apartment and into a retirement residence. There’s a valet service for walkers. Folks, I can’t make this stuff up.
Eight years prior to that, we moved my mom out of our family home. At the time, it was tough deciding what I wanted to keep. I have a habit of projecting myself into the future, angry for not taking something that would no doubt come to have huge sentimental value. Like a keychain from Canada’s Wonderland.
This time around, the move from the apartment took on more significance as my mom’s new place is a lot smaller. And, as her world gets smaller, the things she takes with her are fewer. This move seemed to count in a way that the previous one didn’t. If I didn’t take what I wanted now, it'd be gone forever.
I’ve always felt my mom’s china was sacred. Which I suppose isn’t surprising, given the brown and burnt-orange Tupperware landscape I grew up in. My mom’s china only came out on special occasions, like Christmas or Thanksgiving. My parents rarely entertained so there wasn’t a need to use it. Sure, we’d have my uncle over for Sunday dinners. But who wanted to eat Kentucky Fried Chicken off a china plate? Truth be told, none of our meals were really china-worthy. Or maybe our day-to-day life wasn’t china-worthy. I find that a bit sad. You have all these nice things and you never find a reason to use them.
I had no idea what I’d do with an eight-piece china set. I couldn’t remember the last time I had a dinner party, let alone one where I needed a gravy boat. But I brought the china home, washed it and carefully wrapped everything in paper. Then I put it in the garage. Where it’ll sit, waiting for an occasion that will likely never come, just as it did in my mom’s cabinet.
But maybe not. Maybe I’ll come to see things a little differently. China’s not that sacred, after all. I mean, they’re plates. And using these plates, even for grilled cheese sandwiches, will make me feel happy. Or sad, reminding of a time that’s gone forever. But that’s better than having nothing you’d want back. The things worth saving aren’t worth anything if you never give yourself permission to enjoy them.
I just hope I don't break anything.
UPDATE: I placed an ad on Craigslist for some friends and invited them over for dinner. True to my word, I used my mom's china. Needless to say, my guests were very impressed. I hope they come back.