Thursday, June 21, 2012
Me and silver
Losing my mom 2 years ago had a component that's probably universal. Regrets. They're a stupid way to live, considering that linear time is going to keep marching forward, but maybe it's inevitable that I not only miss some of the things we shared but badly miss some of the things we could have shared but didn't.
For every special occasion, Mom and Dad's wedding silverware came out of the hutch, got polished up and got placed at the dining room table. And with the approach of every special occasion, I made sure my mother knew how much I despised the silver, the polishing, and the formality, and would never, ever have such things as part of my life.
Kid, teenager, Young Woman, endlessly I hauled out the same snide comments about the silverware and she'd smile and preempt my beaten-to-death joke : "Yes, yes, I know, when I'm gone you're going to melt it all down into ingots and sell it."
No, she didn't smile because she knew I'd come around. She smiled because she never took material things all that seriously. She mentioned my distaste for the silverware to a friend just a few years ago. She really thought I hated it, and there's a good reason she thought so.
I thought I hated it, too.
And maybe she and I share responsibility for our complete lack of understanding about the silverware and why I claimed not to want it. With some communication we might have uncovered the real problem.
Because what I actually hated was silver polish.
It seems unfair to name the brand. It was a good product, it was all there was back in The Day, and it did the job. Nobody had invented anything better, or at least nothing else was commonly publicized. The brand is still around and I think they solved the stench problem awhile back, so it no longer needs to be dissed.
But back then, W------ Silver Polish had a nasty, sour smell. And taste. As the pre-holiday polishing job got underway, it formed a nauseating little atmosphere of sulphurous sourness in the kitchen, where she polished the utensils, and maybe it was my imagination, but I could taste the stuff on my dinner fork, a sour-ish encore to every bite of turkey or rice.
I doubt if anybody liked the smell, but it may be that I'm just built to react strongly to it. The smell gave me the kind of headache that in turn causes queasiness. However mild both sensations were -- and they were. I ate and socialized normally through the meal -- still, it took a form of Formal Dinner self-control for me to sit and eat with the smell clinging even so gently to the whole table spread.
To her end, she thought I hated this silver that she cherished. For so long, I thought I did too.
Possibly she suspected that my dislike had eased some when she gave me this pitcher about 10 years ago. I've positioned it so you can see one of its dents, center-bottom. There are more dents, and lots of scratches. It's silver plate, and she kind of waved it off, saying, "Would you like that? Now, it's not any good, but you're welcome to it." And I responded with a happy "Yes!" Plate needs care too and so, by my taking something silver when she offered it, I hope she knew I would at least treat her flatware with respect.
But I doubt she knew it would ever be real love, and it is. The pieces are beautiful, and she loved it, and for her sake and its own, I love it too. I probably would have loved it long ago if i'd known that my problem was NOT that silver was an inherently sour and nauseating metal, but that W------ Silver Polish was making it act on me like kryptonite.
She'd undoubtedly get a big kick out of seeing me spot this little tray in a thrift shop and actually want it. This too is plated and came cheap, but I loved the shape and the clean, classic design, and finding my initial on it closed the deal for 10 bucks.
Spending the present regretting the past simply piles up more lost minutes squandered, but still, sometimes, I wish....