Today, I cleaned antiques.
In reality, it was two days ago, but it doesn’t sound as good to say, “Two days ago, I cleaned antiques.” In my mind anyway.
The “when” of it aside, this may not seem like a notable task to anyone else. But, to me, it was a lot more than just wiping down old pitchers and plates.
A great amount of my childhood was spent with my grandma, who I knew better as “Grammy.” She showed me how boink boinks (snapdragons) can talk, that vanilla is the best flavor for anything and how neat antiques can truly be.
In downtown Orange, California, within a well-stocked antique mall, she had two spaces to call her own. It was within these two spaces, more-so the upstairs one, that she allowed small, unreliable hands to wash delicate remnants of history, each more valuable than anything I currently, or probably ever will, own.
With the same blue and white bowl (which was also for sale; I still wonder what happened to it) and soapy lukewarm water, I’d wash away any dust or dirt clouding the intricate details of teacups and saucers alike. I don’t know what kind of madness led her to believe that giving a kid valuable breakables, water and a rag was a good idea, but I’m glad. Her trust in me from those simple, but impressionable, moments has remained with me after all this time.
So, two days ago, I cleaned antiques. And while there was no blue and white bowl or soapy lukewarm water, there was the memory with every crevice wiped and each inside swabbed. The memory of her and her love for me and her trust in me. For that reason, the task is notable and will always be to me.
It hurts to know she won’t be there on my wedding day, or to sing “A Bushel and a Peck” to my kids at their request over and over again. But I have the memories. And for that, I’ll always be grateful.