Saturday, October 25, 2014

The Vault?

I fear I am a default vault. With the recent passing of my last aunt, I have become more aware of family dynamics. It appears (and often it is but appearance) we accept and submit to the expectations and conventions which family had agreed upon years, even generations before our bright soul either dripped or plummeted to the planet. Awareness of such may startle us at some point, thanks to a cathartic moment or experiences that inform us. So...

Of late, and specifically since my aunt's passing (again, a euphemism required although I'm quite comfortable with it), "things" have begun to take on new meaning. I note the hobnail, white, milk glass entertainment service. Each scalloped edged plate has a slight lip, a ring, just inside the upper right corner. This holds the matching cup. The set has a sugar bowl and a creamer. There is also a vase - all match. It's a quaint service last used "formally" when Mom hosted the Women's Auxiliary of our Presbyterian Church. Dad was required to whisk my brother and me off the premises while the event took place. I'm confident my Mom was a nervous wreck (her words).

Returning home, I was overjoyed at the remaining mixed nuts (especially the Brazil nuts), and pastel colored butter mints. These ladies had nibbled on such and on these prized plates? I had never known these milky white, specialized plates to be used. Maybe they were purchased for the occasion. Just don't know. I can tell you this memorable event, so clearly etched on my mind, both excited and confounded me sometime during 1965 - I think. The sight of butter mints still brings a subtle smile to my face as those delicate, pastel, melt away standards of an expected delicacy for such functions knocks at my door - a gloved hand no less.

So today, there they are. On the top shelf. Stacked. Neat. Haven't changed. Probably quite dusty with an adequate layer of residual grease. I have taken one of these dear plates down within the past thirty-nine years and put food on it, hoping or projecting that the moments spent with it would somehow bring back mixed nuts, butter mints and Mom in a dress, and wearing heels, and surrounded by other ladies, following the conventions of 1965. Well, it hasn't happened.

So, there the plates sit. Rest. Still. Quite still.

I'm the youngest of my generation. Mom and Dad's generation has passed. My eldest brother is 72. One member of "our" generation is in her late 80's. We're the top tier! We're next! Having not procreated, I sense there's a drop ceiling just below me - careful steps.

Being the youngest - I have ended up with all the "things" from Mom and Dad; some items from grandparents. Thus, the title of this missive - "The Vault?" Aside from having plenty of stuff, there is much of what I have that will mean little to anyone. Photographs of extended family - who will know, so I have started sorting in order to give the photos to those family members who do have children. Everything else? E-bay?

A convention possibly - someone must keep the family stuff, until death do we part. I'm rethinking this. Just what do these things provide aside from functional storage and accessories? What can I possibly do with a cashmere coat with three-quarter sleeves and a mink collar? Yep, still have that.

One thing is for sure. All of these items provide a sense of history and identity and attachment and worth for me. All of these things provide amazing story starters, and conversation prompts. There is a fractured yet oddly fluid timeline weaving its way through my home - in and out of boxes and baskets, cabinets and on shelves. Worth keeping? For now - sure. For a while.

I would like these beautiful shadows to fade before I do though.

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