because life doesn’t fit in a file folder

The Blessing of Broken Dishes: A Lesson About Losing Things We Love

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I often work as a Professional Organizer, helping people declutter their little messes. I learn a lot on that little job. I see how things represent people and am forever amazed how people become connected to the strangest things: pantyhose, flip-flops, even mismatched drinking glasses.

I’m not the most sentimental gal, but I collect Fiestaware. The brightly colored pieces make putting the dishes away less of a chore and more of a joy. One or two of the pieces are from my grandmother’s own collection and, though I rarely eat from them, I like opening my doors to my cabinet and seeing them there all nestled in amongst the rest of the pieces. Since she passed away, these few bowls have served as a daily special reminder of our connectedness.

Many years ago, a shelf that held much of my beautiful Fiestaware collection caved in and I found myself desperately trying to catch the dishes as they fell, rainbows-colored disks crashing around me.

Strangely, in that instant, I remembered all the smashing and crashing in my life. Broken teacups and broken hearts. I realized that when things break, a person has to make choices.

Initially, I wanted to try to Super-glue the smithereens together in an attempt to make imperfect things perfect again, but I learned long ago perfection is temporary, at best. I briefly considered taking the busted up pieces and trying to make some kind of mosaic out of all the funky colors and sharp edges, but who has time for that, really? Eventually, I got my broom and old green dustpan, swept everything up, vacuumed for good measure, and threw all the pieces-parts into the garbage.

Not everything can be saved.

 

After I cried a little, I decided I was like an ant whose home had just been knocked over by an unforeseen storm. And everyone knows what ants do; they rebuild. So I pretended that my collection had been cosmically revised and started collecting again. Losing the chartreuse platter was a bummer, but my grandmother’s pieces were spared and, for that, I was grateful.

I’m blessed to have a loving family and few good friends. And stuff, while we like to surround ourselves with it, is just filler.

Who would have thought I’d find so much in my daily dishes?

To what physical items are you connected?

4 thoughts on “The Blessing of Broken Dishes: A Lesson About Losing Things We Love

  1. I’m connected to my paintings, pottery, pewter and cactus, plural for my cacti!

  2. I am such a sentimental slob!! I hate it. I clip or tear out newspaper articles, crochet directions, print up things that I want to hang onto–all these clippings, greeting cards, words of wisdom get slipped into my Bible for safe keeping.

    I recently unpacked a box that had been in my neighbor’s basement for two to three years, probably closer to five. She invited us to keep things in her basement while our house was being renovated…she told us we could leave things there for as long as we wanted…

    The grandchildren visited at Christmas. I told my husband that the boxes had to come home, while we had two younger bodies to help carry them.

    Back to unpacking the first box. I reached in and found my Bible, stuffed with all my clippings, cards, crocheted book mark, flattened sage from New Mexico, even some of my grandmother’s clippings–she died sixteen years ago… Though safely boxed up and stored safely on a shelf in my neighbor’s basement, everything in that box was mildewed and moldy. The Bible has been wiped off, but I know I can’t keep it. The worst thing for books is to add a mildewed book to become a shelfmate. So my Bible sits atop another box, awaiting a trip to the trash… But we’re soon going to burn invasive weeds that I’ve been digging up. Maybe that’s a better ending for mildewed words of
    G-d.

  3. When I was married the first time I had a ton of stuff, to which I thought I was deeply attached. But when the marriage ended, long story short very little of it came with me. It was astonishing how little of it I actually missed. And so now I travel through life much lighter. It’s better, truly.

  4. I have a marble-topped table that was in my parents’ bedroom when I was growing up, and a walnut table from our dining room in the same house. Mother and Dad split up as I was getting out of college, and for some reason I got those two pieces. I’ve managed to hang onto them for 53 years now as mementos of a time I know will never recur.

    BTW, your stack of Fiestaware reminded me of another thing from that house. That’s what we ate on every meal. There was one plate – I don’t remember the color – that no one ever wanted to use, so my older sister started feeling sorry for it (she’s that way) and would always put it at her place.

    Hope all is well with you.

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