In the past several days, my primary activity has been repairing my mom’s furniture (wood epoxy is a fine thing) and shuffling it around, trying to find space for it all, and sorting through eighteen cartons of books. There are some perils to inheriting books from a librarian with degrees in French, German, and Comparative Literature (not to mention Library Science and Management and Public Policy). I’ve also washed lots of china, glassware, cookware, and serving dishes (my mom had a small catering business on the side), and am in the process of polishing some brass and silver. A good friend helped me out immensely by taking some of the books off my hands; most of the rest — I mean, aside from the hundred or so that mean a lot to David and me — will go to charity or the used book stores. There were also four big cartons of cookbooks, which will go the same way, although I did hang on to all the Julia Child, James Beard, Fannie Farmer, and Craig Claiborne for David and me. (David hopes to eventually open his own restaurant.) For all the treasures and important memoriata I’ve found, there’s also lots of stuff that my aunt Carol (my mom’s executrix) and I packed in a hurry that doesn’t really seem to me to be worth saving, but that David might want. How important is it to save a porcelain cookie jar that both of you grew up with and that both of you snatched cookies from for the space of some twenty-four years?
To frame the question more generally: I’ve got all these material possessions here, in a space where my brother can’t see them, touch them, handle them. It’s easy to make value judgments on stuff that’s important to me; it’s a lot harder to make such judgments for him. And it’s compounded by the fact that there’s not enough room in my apartment for all this stuff. My dad and I crammed tight a storage locker with David’s stuff in Maryland; there’s just no room for anything more. So what do I do?
It’s pretty clear, I guess. I hold on to what I think is important, and ask David what he wants when he gets out. We’ve already discussed the broad inventory: I’m not going to go through a narrower thousand-item inventory with him. Neither of us are interested in that.
But I put myself in his place, and look at such a decision, and it distresses me: chunks of his history, things that he might not remember until he handles the items, get flushed down the memory hole. I’m not sure I can do that.
Anyway. Those are my excuses for having not blogged lately. I’m trying to get back into the swing of things, and I’m grateful for the comments, and know I’ve got some responding to do: thanks for the kind words, y’all. There’s still a dissertation in progress, I promise.
In the interim: can anyone tell me what this is? My mom had a dozen of them, sterling silver, inherited from her grandmother. They have a narrow lip around the bottom, which is 2.5 inches in diameter; the top is 3 inches in diameter, and the handle is 2.5 inches long. They fit none of my mom’s glassware, and, well, I really don’t think they’re napkin rings. Any ideas?