Breaking and Enduring

As my friend Dawn was helping me wash dishes one night during their visit she dropped my Phaltzgraf soup tureen into the white porcelain sink. It bounced twice and split in half like a ripe melon. “Oh, don’t worry, Dawn. It’s just an old bowl. I have loads of bowls.” I tossed it in the trash can and later threw out the useless lid. I didn’t tell her it had been a gift from my mother-in-law. WAH.

I love all my pottery, crockery bowls, bean pots, and pitchers. I have a set of bowls from Marshall, Texas, besides many other heavy bowls, and a couple of old pitchers that keep tea cold and fresh. I have a pickle crock that I store rolled maps in all year, except for a month or two in summer when I make pickles in it. On my dinner table I have a lovely satiny blue pottery bowl that I bought from a Creek Indian potter.

Recently, I threw away my “pomegranate bowl”—a beautiful antique cream-colored bowl with fruit painted delicately on the side. It cracked during a move and I had kept it on a shelf and put some old spoons and packets of flower seeds in it. I chipped the edge of my brown Hull platter and had to throw it. I have trouble parting with some things— any pottery dishes especially. I kept the pieces of a broken china teapot with a wicker handle for years before I could throw it away. Why do I cling to these things so?

But living with kids, which, of course, is one of those things you do during motherhood, means things will get broken. I could put all my pretty breakables aside and never use them. I could pack them up and preserve them, but I love to use them. Life is fuller and richer with them. A friend whose house burned told me she had never eaten off her china—never! She said if she ever got more she would use it as often as she liked.

My mama, who raised nine children, used to say in despair at an accident, “You can’t have anything!” I know the feeling. Things get broken, scuffed, worn out, cracked, chipped, stained, scarred, scratched and marred. It can’t be helped. But you can’t get mad. People must be valued over things. We toss and go on. There will be other pretty things to enjoy in the future. Today there are friends and family to love and the sun is shining.

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