Late Friday night, in preparation for a luncheon I was hosting on Saturday, I pulled out my mother’s silver chest from under a bed. I opened it, and I was almost blinded by the dazzle of a century’s worth of sterling silver flatware.
When my mother married my daddy in 1941, she did what every self-respecting bride-to-be did: she chose a sterling silver pattern to go along with the china and crystal she had selected. My mother chose the same one that her mother had chosen years back. Between the two of them, they could feed lots of people. Following their footsteps, I chose the exact same pattern when I got married: Prelude by International.
Although I’ve used my sterling silver flatware over the years, I could never be considered a regular silver user. It took a lot more effort to unwrap the silvercloth bundles and pull out the utensils, piece by piece, than to open a drawer and pick up my everyday flatware. After using the sterling silver, I’d have to hand wash it and return each piece to its individual slot in the protective slivercloth.
I didn’t have enough of my own silver for Saturday’s luncheon. That’s when I opened my mother’s chest that I had recently picked up from my parent’s house in Brownwood. At first, I tried to keep my forks separated from my mother’s and my grandmother’s and to provide an imaginary dividing line between their spoons and mine. After a few minutes of fretting with this impossible task, I laid handfuls of silverware on my kitchen counter and gently stirred the pieces, as if I were folding egg whites into waffle batter. During the luncheon, no one knew, or cared, if they were eating with sterling silver given as gifts 35, 65 or 85 years ago. It all looked exactly the same, and it all brought delicious bites of food into waiting mouths.
This recent commingling has had a magical effect on me. While holding some of my grandmother’s special spoons that I hadn’t seen in 35 years, I recalled perfectly how Mary S would scoop up sugar cubes with them, or stir coffee in her Havilland china with other little silver spoons. The serving pieces I laid out on my table were the same ones that my grandmother had used to serve homemade coconut cake every year on my granddaddy’s Christmas birthday; I reveled in that after-Christmas-dinner tradition after my own luncheon guests had long gone.
The greatest joy for me, however, came from commingling my way-too-guarded silver pieces with those of two other lifetimes. The circle of life now seems sturdier and far richer than it did only a few days ago. Let the commingling of many other treasures begin!