Things I Didn't Even Know I Knew
I was recently reading a story from a fascinating book called I Thought My Father was God, a compilation of short stories from National Public Radio's "National Story Project" that unlocked a swirl of memories I didn't even know were tucked away in the brain.
I had an incredibly vivid flash of what my grandmother's silverware felt like in my hands. It was heavy. It had a deeply carved and intricate pattern to it. And I remembered how I used to run my young fingers along the handles of the knife, especially, to feel the flowers etched in silver. Which then led me to recall how that silver on the table meant it was a special occasion. And how the dining room table in her small apartment would be stretched to its max with leaves and a small children's table was set alongside so we all felt like we were eating together. And Gram also had these brightly colored stretchy terry cloth "coozies" for the highball glasses, which were etched with the family monogram, that we used to love to put on the glasses because it made them feel nice. And then I thought of the homemade chocolate sauce she made for topping vanilla ice cream -- alway just vanilla ice cream at Gram's house. That sauce was the highlight of the year -- the sweet, smooth and sometimes gritty taste, heated just perfectly, and pooled over the top of each dish.
And that's how we knew something was special -- the heavy, carved silver, the stretched out table, the terry cloth coozies, the monogramed highballs, the homemade chocolate sauce for vanilla ice cream. No one ever said it was special, we just felt it. The carving in the knife. The crammed in close feeling at the long dining table. The nub of the terry cloth stretchy. The sweet sugary grit of the sauce.
Most surprising to me...I didn't know any of it meant something to me...or correction, that it means something to me -- because it's still right here, vivid in my brain.
So I wonder, what do Mom in Progress and I do now that our girls will recall, for no reason at all, that makes them stop, awestruck, and relive a special moment. I suppose it's the things we don't even recognize, that require no thought or planning, no special recognition or need for words. The things that are there, that have meaning, even though not defined. And that's really part of the beauty of life...of being a parent...of being a child. There's a power and a mystery far beyond that sometimes, someday, sneaks up and makes itself known.
And my, how sweet that is.