Things that matter

Not long after my divorce my mother determined I had availed myself of her good graces long enough and she and I set out to look for an apartment for my 2-year-old son and me. We’d been staying in her and Dad’s guestroom for about a month and a half. Mother was never one to enjoy the company of anyone younger than say 23 sadly, so  we quickly found a suitable place to go. A complication: none of my things– furniture, china, etc., had made it from Tennessee where I’d lived a less than blissful life to Charlotte where my parents were. So Mother made a gift of a lovely wrought iron glass-topped table and 6 chairs and a sofa bed to use until I could arrange for my own things to be moved. Dad feeling Mother’s generosity still coming up short decided to take me shopping for a few more things. He, always knowing where to find a bargain knew of a department store liquidation and we set out. At the time I loved bamboo and wicker. We found a small wicker bookcase, two bamboo “arm” chairs and a garish mustard-yellow ginger jar lamp. I was thrilled! Dad said I looked like someone living in a thatched hut.

Eventually my own things came, my son and I left the apartment after about a year and again, Mother found a 2 bed, 2 bath condo not too far away. We moved.

Over the years some of the furniture changed, but that singular ginger jar lamp made every move, including this one. A total of 8 moves over the course of 30-some years. This past week I decided I needed a new sofa. As I pulled the small love seat away from the end table I saw the poor ginger jar lamp tipping. I had looped an extension cord under an area rug so nobody would trip over it and around one of the legs of the love seat. Before I could register how to get around the furniture to save the lamp it crashed to the floor. Not liking loud noises because she might be at fault my rescue dog Lily disappeared. I stood alone in the silence, looking at the smashed little lamp, too many pieces to repair it.

Slowly I set the love seat down wishing I’d asked a neighbor to help me do all of this. I walked over to the remnants of this lamp and remembered the rose-colored bulb Dad had initially used to light the lamp. He knew I was then as broken as the lamp was now and wanted somehow to make life appear rosy, in some way. And now my life is (somewhat) repaired, still a work in progress but the lamp was now irreparably broken.

Maybe it had lasted as long as it needed to. Still, it was one of the few tangible memories I had of a rare time with Dad. I didn’t cry over it, not at first. But remembering all those years where he and Mom did so much to help me put my life back together, I think I might cry now.

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