Mom didn’t have much worldly wealth. One of the few things she had that she treasured was a china bowl. I have no idea where she got it, if it was something her mother or another relative had, or if she acquired it at yard sale for a nickel. It was a heavy bowl, blue on the outside, white on the inside, straight up and down sides, no rim, hard for little girl hands to handle with confidence. Maybe there were some flowers somewhere on it but I’m too lazy right now to call one of the sisters and ask.
One of the things we did not have growing up was a dishwasher. I take that back. We had three — us. The bowl must have been just the right size for mixing or serving, therefore she used it frequently and she was proud of it. So much so that we just knew we were unforgiven and out of the will if we so much as chipped it. When it was time to wash The Blue Bowl, life became slo-mo, sound faded into a background hum, tension increased when one of us had to handle it out of the rinse water. You drop it, you die on the spot, the parents get off without questions, no arrests, no time served. Life was bad enough when anything was spilled or something broken — “we just can’t keep anything!!” or “another mess to clean up!!”– it was a feeling in the pit of the stomach….
On other occasions in my life, I’ve felt that same lurch deep in the gut. We all know the feeling when thoughtless words add another brick to a wall, when an email can’t be pulled back, when the person you’re talking about is standing behind you, when “sorry” can’t erase the disappointment, when Humpty Dumpty is swept into the dustpan.
Once that bowl or another treasure is smashed, it’s never the same. If it can be glued, the cracks forever tell the story of what you did. When it’s people that are damaged, Holy Spirit can make it like new. When my little girl broke a chunk out of an oval bowl that was part of my wedding china set, the look on her face broke my heart. “It’s just a thing, Honey. Don’t worry, I think we can glue it.” And we did. You should have seen the look on Eric Barrows’ face when years later he picked it up by the glued piece and it snapped off. Where’s the camera when you need it?
Mom was not a screech or an unforgiving shrew. She had other sorrows that caused her to attach too much to a few things. Over The Blue Bowl, there would have been disappointment but nothing permanent. Okay, years later she might have mentioned it out of the blue, pardon the wordplay. But she always knew people trumped things. Again, I have no idea why she valued it to the point that she did. However, a big however —
When we moved them from the house to a nursing home and disbursed their belongings, keeping some things, sending some off to auction, none of us girls wanted The Blue Bowl. You would think there would be names drawn, an argument, some sentiment over it. For me, I didn’t want the phone call in 40 years asking me if I still had it.
I have found out that the California sister has it and uses it on occasion. If she ever chips, cracks, or breaks it, well ….. say hi to Mom ‘cuz she might be comin’ for a chat.