Inventory of a life’s interests. The odd bowl Grandma ignored on a back shelf. A gift from some notorious kin who went to Mexico in the 1940s. No one wanted it but me. Ebay says it’s worth twenty bucks as a collectible. The 80 year old wooden bread plate I salvaged from Grandma’s kitchen during the yard sale after she died. Scarred and stained, with the word BREAD carved in the rim. Someone bought it for ten dollars today. Go figure. The gold-trimmed Blue Willow china I collected after I wrote a book by that name. Cheap stuff at flea markets. Now worth enough to justify not donating it to Goodwill. The frou-frou frilly old-lady china pitcher and teacup Ma hated because Grandma forced it on her; she banished it to the cabinet below the kitchen sink for forty years. But I looked at the bottom and it’s by a notable Bavarian china maker. So now it’s on eBay for twenty bucks. The beautiful china plates that hung on the wall above Mother’s bed in my house; watching all those sad years go by . . . Dresden and Limoge, I was with her when she found them at antique stores. Now for sale to strangers who don’t care. My Dad’s AT & T tie clasp, and AT &T coffee mugs, coasters, kitchen magnets, even an AT & T screw driver; all up for sale because I have no idea what else to do with them. And what to do with the old linens and scarves from both mine and Hank’s family; the shabby but charming vintage fabric that buyers will turn into craft projects. The two fancy stemware wine glasses that survived from a great-grandma’s treasured finery; the wooden box of rusty woodworking tools from a great grandpa. Hank and I wanted to be the guardians and protectors of these small family mementos; that’s why we stuffed them into every corner of storage sheds and basements and homes. But who else cares about them but us? Even if we’d had kids, would they want the sentimental responsibility of running this informal family museum? The treasures we salvaged are dry pieces of a past to most people, but I touch them and feel their history. I have to let them go.
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