I now have four sets of dishes. Pretty impressive for a girl who’s just 32. (Okay, almost 33.) Don’t be too impressed; only one set is complete.
Then there is our fine china – Antique Lace by Mikasa – we have eight complete place settings. I like the delicacy of it, yet the boldness and strength of the gold. I can count the times we’ve used it on one hand. Most of our marriage it has been stored up in boxes since I had no room for it in my cabinets. I have finally been able to dust it all off and stack it on a top shelf. Beautiful, but unloved.
My third (and partial) set came from my great-grandmother Knox via my aunt. I barely remember Nanny. I remember the two steps going up to her back door, sitting at her kitchen table. She was tall and lean. Nanny died when I was five or six, and they didn’t let my brother or me go to the funeral, so a friend babysat us at my Nanny’s house. That house then became my Grandmama and Grandaddy’s house, full of laughter and fun. Nanny’s china, white with two gold concentric circles, is worn. Much of the gold has rubbed off, probably from being washed in the dishwasher. A tradition which, God help me, I’ve continued. I suppose I should take better care of her china . . . would it mean I’d be taking better care of her memory?
And my last set of china, just received. From my grandmother. My Julia Roberts grandmother, who passed away in December. 12 place settings. Almost complete. A coffee cup seems to be all that’s missing. I love this china. Farm animals. Pastels. Whimsy. Comfort. My Undaddy and Julia’s dining room table, these plates piled high with southern deliciousness.
I leave you with the good stuff:
What Came to Me
by Jane Kenyon
I took the last
dusty piece of china
out of the barrel.
It was your gravy boat,
with a hard, brown
drop of gravy still
on the porcelain lip.
I grieved for you then
as I never had before.
by Jody Gladding
A pond will deepen toward the center like a plate
we traced its shallow rim my mother steering
my inner tube past the rushes where I looked
for Moses we said it was a trip around the world
in China we wove through curtains of willow
that tickled our necks let’s do that again
and we’d double back idle there lifting
our heads to the green rain
swallows met over us later I dreamed
of flying with them we had all the time
in the world we had the world
how could those trees be weeping?