My husband Michael and I love travel and adventure. That’s why this year we will be selling our home, and–as much as possible–everything in it, and moving into an RV fulltime. (YES!!)
We’re very excited about this new life we’re about to embark on, and I have already selected the plastic, stemless wine glasses we’ll need to take with us. Sadly, Michael’s mom’s tissue-thin crystal wine glasses will have to go into storage.
At least what’s left of them. Before she went to join her late husband of more than 70 years, Stanley, Ethel gave the glasses to me, the family’s major wine drinker. When we began to run short on our own wine glasses, I unpacked them from their cardboard tomato transport box and newspaper wrappings reluctantly, knowing what was likely to happen to them.
I may not have much in the way of talent, but I do have two well-developed skills: 1) cutting my fingers with knives, and 2), breaking wine glasses. Okay, three: I also am very good at spilling red wine on light colored furniture. Well, wait, four: getting wine stains out of light colored furniture.
As you might now imagine, I was SO HAPPY when it was not me who broke the very first of Mom’s wine glasses! My lovely stepdaughter Alexis swept one off the kitchen counter cleaning up after a dinner together. She was horrified. I was overjoyed. I hollered, “YES!! I didn’t break the first one!”
Michael took out the second. Again, I was thrilled. But I knew my excitement and gratitude was short lived. There was no way I could drink from these delicate vessels without losing one.
And so I took out the third. And then began a family contest in which each of us struggled not to break, but broke, Mom’s crystal wine glasses. I’m pretty sure I ultimately won.
There’s a voice in my head, and I know it’s not my mother’s, that whispers to me in these moments, “We just can’t have nice things in this house.” It’s not Ethel’s voice, either. It’s probably a TV voice.
There’s another voice inside my head that says, “These glasses have been used. We enjoyed them. We celebrated time together with our family and friends with these glasses.”
I like that voice better. And as I think back on our final moments with Ethel before she slipped into unconsciousness at her nursing home and then left us some days later, I remember her last awed words to me: “Look at that sky.” Her appreciation of what was important and beautiful stayed with her right until the end. That’s a lesson worth learning.
There was a full dozen glasses when we began. I believe there are now four. They may stay with us for a while, or they may go. Their crystalline lives will most assuredly be lengthened by being packed away from us in a cool, undisturbed storage unit.
I hope we don’t break the last of them before we hit the road. But even if we do, I’m pretty sure Ethel will still be with me every time we sit in our camp chairs under a sunset-streaked sky, reminding me to look up from the plastic wine glass in my hand and cherish the unbreakable beauty all around us.
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Kyle Ann Robertson
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