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Consider This

By LC Van Savage


Iíve promised Mongo that Iím finally on a Five Year Plan to empty our home of all the packratted stuff Iíve---well, packratted. He smiles when I say that and itís a sardonic smile, but thereís a hint of hopefulness in it too. I really save too much junk, and while I know the psycho reasons for that, Iím sixty-five now and the daily obituaries are telling me Iíd better get the job done before our kids have to do it, because no matter what Far Beyond I get kicked into after gagging my last, I know Iíll still be able to hear their enraged bellows.

Iíll hear them howling, "How much does it cost to rent a dumpster? Maybe two!" and "Someone, please, one of us, has anyone got a match?" and "She saved all this crap? WHY??" and "She didnít live through the Depression. This saved stuff is JUNK!" And of course, "Oh, !#@#$%$^&**#@# Mom!!"

So OK, maybe Iím not exactly doing Feng Shui, but Iím really getting rid of stuff, emptying shelves, clearing things. Itíll take at least 5 years, doing one job a day. If I donít live to be 70, well then the kids get to do the job after all, because Mongo sure wonít. Heíll have locked the door and beat it outta here, and will be living in a small, flat condo with an unlisted number.

Iíve spent the better part of a year looking hard at a big old table we own and had behind our livingroom couch. It had been quite old already when it was a wedding gift to my grandmother in 1935. She was called JKR because she fancied herself at least as important as FDR. This is a heavy mahogany table, too small for a dining table, an odd rectangular size. Apparently it was once a "receiving table," beautiful, carved tables against one wall of a mansionís enormous front hall on which there would be a large bouquet of magnificent flowers and a silver salver to receive that dayís calling cards.

Back in Victorian times, apparently the wealthy, mostly women, would spend their days calling on each other. Can you imagine anything more boring than driving around all day in a buggy, staring at the back end of a horse and stopping over and over to "pay a call" on another wealthy Victorian lady who may be out looking at the back end of her own horse while she called on other folks. There were no computers or telephones then, so I guess one just took oneís chances. One would therefore prove that one had called by leaving oneís calling card on that silver salver.

The table, solid mahogany, has thick, corkscrew-carved legs, (same design carved heavily around the table-topísí edges) and those legs end in large wooden balls. Grasping them with four huge teeth are saber-toothed tiger heads. These heads are also deeply carved angry faces, but not done in brass. They are copper. Magnificent!

In the spirit of quasi-Feng Shui I recently gave that table to our #2 son Mark. And, seeing it departing in the back of his van was not easy for me. I began to remember the good times around that clumsy, odd-sized table. JKR had squeezed it into her tiny apartment kitchen where it looked completely out of place, and had covered it with a plastic cloth. But we had wonderful, long talks at that table, stuffing down her luscious peanut butter cookies with the fork-tine design pressed into the tops, and weíd speak of her long life and how; The time has come the Walrus said/ To talk of many things/Of shoes and ships and sealing wax/And cabbages and kings.

It hurt my heart to see it go, but it was time. Take care of that old table Mark. It carries a plethora of joyful memories. Itís time to add your own.  

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Reader Comments

Name: John I. Blair Email:
Comment: Dear LC, Loved your story about the burden of physical memories . . . otherwise known as all that junk we've kept over the years instead of tossing or giving away! At least I come by this tendency naturally . . . my parents had a full attic, a full basement, and a very large and very full outbuilding. When Dad died and Mom had to sell the house in Kansas and move to Texas, she needed two separate estate sales to even get started on thinning stuff down, and didn't really finish until she died herself, 28 years later. As for me and Clara, we don't even know what's here any more, and I'm only 62! But one thing we know about is another old table, this one maybe 100 years old, that originally was my paternal grandmother's kitchen table, around which she fed and raised six children. Dad salvaged the pieces from my Aunt Mildred's chicken house many years ago and lovingly reconstructed it. Mom used it to hold her Zenith TV for years. When she was finally forced to move into a nursing home, that was the one item in her apartment that we bespoke. It now holds a place of honor in our living room. Think of all the stories that table could tell if it could talk! John



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