Polishing the Silver
Christmas comes but once a year, as the song goes. And each year as the pre-Christmas days of December arrive, so does the near and dear spirit of mom Marion, who seems to hover very close to me throughout this time.
But it is not under the Christmas tree where we meet, it is in the kitchen. Two particular memories of mom wrap around me in the hub of her home — for her, it was the kitchen. Silver polishing, we did side by side, conversing along the way as the sparkle appeared.
The second memory was of mom’s gigantic baking projects that lasted from before Thanksgiving, through Christmas and ending up on January 2 with a homemade angel food cake for me, my favorite kind.
I have blogged about each of these in past years on Napkinwriter and I reprint the story on polishing the silver. All of these things help me know that mom has truly never left me and guides me each time I pick up the rolling pin to roll out a new crust for my very popular apple pie.
Polishing the Silver
December 17, 2011 by napkinwriter
One of my daughters called me this morning while I was fixing our breakfast. She had just received news that was rather stressful. I felt her stress land in a deep part of me as I listened. I handed the phone to her father and he listened as well. She had a full day of professional work to get through and at this time the best we could offer her was to focus on the day ahead, help all the patients she would be seeing and return home safely tonight to her family.
We had our breakfast together and talked about a few of the items on the list we wanted to do today to get more settled in our new home. Hanging up wall pictures was at the top of the list. A house doesn’t seem like a home without them.
But first, I had a desire come over me to polish the silverware I had left out on the kitchen ledge. I wanted to do that before we got started on the other. This silverware is a small part of the twelve piece settings (two sets) from both my birth mother and the mom who raised me after her death.
We have not “entertained” as a way of life for a very long time. We have either moved away from family or moved back to smaller places so we tend to have large gatherings at my daughters’ homes instead of ours. Tom and I often eat our dinner in our TV chairs which some judge to be a bad habit, but we’re comfortable with it.
So…….I asked myself awhile back, “What am I saving the silver for!” Tom just turned seventy years old and I am a mere year behind.
At our wedding time, more than forty-six years ago now, we filled in an eight-piece china set around the china gifts given us from our registry, but never chose a silver set.
As we’ve been moving between apartments, town homes and now finally a new home of our own again, I removed a small sample of four placesettings from each set from their chest storage and put them with the regular silverware, which is a mixed and varied mismatched group if there ever was one.
Then I took two china place settings from the china cabinet where they are stored on low shelves, harder to get down to as each year passes. Then I use these at random times just for Tom and me because, you know, time is spinning on and we don’t really have to save them for anything special because every day is special.
As I am polishing these intermixed sets from my two mothers, I listen to some prayer chant songs that really contain the essence of my faith in God and in life, and my troubled heart soothes a bit.
I also recall the specialness of this silverware, mostly the second set because that was the one mom used for all our holidays and her dining room table was the definition of special. Of the many things mom was, frugal was one of them. Her set was silver-plated, not real silver, so one of my jobs around holiday times was to polish this silver for her.
She was also the finest of cooks and bakers. So we came to the dining room table with a feast to behold. Our mahoghany drop leaf dining room table was pulled to center stage from the wall, adorned with a freshly washed and pressed linen table cloth and napkins and then filled with hot, steaming delicious meats, vegetables, fruits and desserts. Seeing, handling and using this silverware puts me right back in my girlhood dining room and times. This is the dining table Tom came to as we became an engaged couple.
My birth mother’s silverware – I’m just glad I have it. I think mom and dad gave it to me in our early marriage. It is one of the few tangible items I have of my mother that I know she chose, used, and cherished in her own married life, as short as it was.
The words to the chants, I am very familiar with, and begin to sing along as my hands slip along in the silvery foam suds. One of the songs was written for our Wings of Prayer group leader, On the Wings of Prayer.”
“Cherish the light of each moment.
Embrace the days one by one –”
“Fear neither storm nor darkness,
Knowing you’ve done your best.”
“Enjoy the Power of being….
on the Wings of Prayer.”
So my silent prayer takes flight and I surrender to a knowledge that this prayer is powerful; that so many times we, too, walked by faith and not by sight. And that this is an answer in itself.