Spring 2002, Brent and I were nearing the Big Day. We had spent hours registering for dinnerware, Tupperware, Corningware, underwear – if it ended in -ware we registered for it. We were quite proud of ourselves, I do say. Young, in love and so excited about our choices.
I remember the day well. The day mama came over after a trip to Belk. She and Mamaw had been shopping. Bargain shoppin‘.
“Look what I found on clearance. I bought you and Brent a set. These are Lenox.”
With a proud smile, she held up a box of dishes. Cream and country-blue, striped dishes. Yes, they were Lenox, but they were cream and country-blue. And striped. Not what I wanted or would have chosen.
Not wanting to pop her bargain bubble, I thanked her and thought to myself, I will shelve them and cross my fingers someone buys what is on our registry. And a few someones did. Friends and family bought piece after piece, completing the set of my chic and classy white dishes.
But come March 12, 2005, my chic and classy white dishes paled in comparison to the beauty of those cream colored Lenox dishes. That country-blue stripe had never been more meaningful.
To this day, mama is a part of mealtime. I like to think of her serving up oatmeal and cereal for breakfast. Macaroni and chicken at dinner. Those clearance dishes – now of intangible worth.
Last Friday night, after a lazy woman served up some Ragu and noodles to her three little boys, she turned to put a bowl in the sink. And the bowl slipped right out of her hand onto the hardwood floor. It hit just right. And broke into ungluable pieces.
I knelt and in slow motion picked up each piece.
Grant came behind me, “Was that bowl precious?”
Precious. His wording poignant.
“Yes, honey. This bowl was precious. My mama bought it for me.”
“Your mama Darlene? Wasn’t that her name? Darlene?” Ethan asked.
Ethan -“How do you spell that? D-A-R.. How does the rest go, mom?”
Her name sounded sweet in my home. And as I picked up the broken pieces of my bowl, the Lord picked up the broken pieces of my heart. Those little voices remembering the grandmother they never knew.
We talked of her Friday night. For a good long while. And I was thankful.
The brokenness of my bowl bringing back the beauty of her memory.
Do not lay up for yourselves treasure on earth, where moth and rust destroy, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven. Matthew 6:19-20
And she is there. A treasure awaiting me in heaven. Her embrace serving satisfaction that no cream colored, country-blue striped plate could offer.
One day, we will feast together again.
Not on discounted Lenox dishes, but on divine dinnerware, set for us at a the table of the Most High God.
A family reunion my mind can not conceive. My RSVP confirmed. A party I will not miss.
Until then, her memory lives on. I see her in the smiles of my children, in the clearance aisle at Belk, in the three Lenox bowls left in my kitchen cabinet.
And in the quiet places of my heart.