4 weeks ago
Wednesday, June 30, 2010
From the Ridiculous, to The Sublime
It's difficult to see the "Funny" in life when you've just lost your mom. Forget finding the "Ridiculous", which often inspires me to write. It's kind of like eating when you have a cold. You know the flavor is there, but it is masked by rivers of snot. Or, in my case now, rivers of tears.
Still, Ridiculous is all around me. I hear it. I feel it. And, if I could just rip these teary scales from my eyes...
I could see that I have been blessed with a legacy of Ridiculous.
You had to know my mother. But you didn't, so I will fill you in. "Meem", as she was known to the grandkids, and eventually many others who loved her, entertained early, entertained often, and entertained with a purpose. Every event had a THEME.
There were By-the-Sea dinners, preceded by By-the-Sea hors d'oeuvres served on real scallop shells, and wine served in antique nautilus goblets. Thanksgiving feasts for thirty with hand-carved turkey napkin rings. Swedish meatballs and glogg presented in Orrefors crystal on glorious antique Swedish tablecloths. And. She saved. Every. Single. Prop. Just in case, I guess, that theme rolled around again in the Theme Rotation.
Meem was the Queen of an ordered and orderly household. The dogs got their heartworm pills on the same day each month, and dinner was always ready at 6:30. There were no piles of "stuff" around the house. Every room was decorated in its own color scheme, and one room flowed to another. But no one knew Meem's secret. She was unwilling to part with a themey find, and she was damn good at finding someplace to store it.
The kitchen cabinets were time capsules of a life well-lived. Meem, in her later years, discovered the joys of plastic cutlery and paper plates, verboten in the days of china and polished silver. These items, in every hue and design, populated the outermost regions of the cabinets. Behind the paper and plastic were layers of exotic spices in exotic jars - vestiges of culinary adventures prompted by The Food Channel and many Junior League cookbooks; and Party City banners proclaiming congratulations to my dad's tennis team. In the very back of the cabinets I discovered boxes of Knox Gelatin Powder. My mother had the most beautiful hands...she could have been a hand model for Palmolive...and here was her secret.
The china cabinets were rife with cups and saucers, collected from here and there, near and far; dozens and dozens of designs that rarely saw the light of day at the same time. My father thought that they would be lovely keepsakes for her closest friends. We started handing them out, and I got nervous around Friend 48 that we would run out. We did not. Like Manna From Heaven, we would open another drawer, another cabinet. And find exactly enough cups and saucers for the friends we just remembered.
Eventually, we will have the Yard Sale of The Millennium...perhaps The Yard Sale To End All Yard Sales. The sheer volume of interesting stuff is ridiculous. The 30 custom-carved turkey napkin rings will find new life at a church serving Thanksgiving supper to 30 recent immigrants to the United States who have never had a turkey dinner. The Authentic Scallop Shells will grace a dorm room dinner, where the main course will be shrimp-flavored Ramen noodles. A newlywed will rejoice in the Junior League cookbooks...and I will know that Meem touched so many more than the folks who attended her theme dinners...sublime...