A Bowl To Remember


Scilla in lawn & shrubs in bud

One day this past week, I hitched up my courage, tamped down my emotions, and drove in to check on Jimbo’s home. (For those of you new to this site, Jimbo died about two months ago. He was my youngest biological son.)

I had listed the house with a realtor a few days before. While most personal items were gone from the house, (thanks to help from my oldest son Steve and his friends) I wanted to check on the painting happening the dining room. I also wanted to do another run through the house to determine what else will have to disperse once the place is sold.

Notice the optimism in the previous statement? 🙂

Well, the painting is coming along very nicely. One room is completely done and looks so much brighter and fresher. That lifted my spirits almost as much as a sunny day would have. Finished with that, I went through the house again—from back porch to front porch, basement to top floor. The whole time I thought about the hidden charms this bungalow contained. (For example, an incredible number of huge walk-in closets–with windows.  One bedroom has 3 such closets!)

And I found the loveliest bowl, setting on a table in a corner of one of the bedrooms. I then remembered something Steve said about finding a bowl he thought I should look at. However, that was a week after Jimbo died. I didn’t have much space in my heart or my mind to think about looking at bowls. Especially when I had to portion out to the appropriate people, a lifetime’s collection of fishing and hunting equipment, tools, and stuff—things I had no idea for what they were used.

Now think about it for a minute. Why would Jimbo have a bowl I should look at in the same closet that held 4 bows, tons of arrows, at least 20 assorted fishing poles, hundreds of lures, and two trolling motors? Are you serious????

But last Monday during my walk-through, I spotted that bowl. Its hand-painted lilacs hinted of spring and renewal. Steve’s words skittered back into my memory. I figured I better bring this home with me.

My new treasure--bowl

Back home, when I took the bowl from its ragged old cardboard box and removed the ancient newspapers that cushioned the bowl, I realized it was porcelain—very good porcelain. I carefully washed the bowl and discovered the gold trim. The bottom of the bowl showed it was made in Germany, and it was numbered.

I don’t know anything about antiques or porcelain but my friend does. I called her. She sounded excited when I explained what I saw.” Would I bring it over?” she asked.

My bowl and I arrived in 15 minutes.  She examined the bowl and before she said anything I spotted excitement spark in her eyes. “This was at Jimbo’s?” she asked.

I nodded as amazed as she that my beloved son who loved flannel and torn jeans and lived a simple life would have kept such an item around.

But he had—and since I knew he knew every little thing he had in that house, he knew of its existence. I suspect my mother left it there when she sold the house to him. I suspect she left it there because she didn’t like it, probably because it most likely came from her mother-in-law. I suspect this because my father’s mother liked to entertain and always talked about the treasures/lovely things she inherited from her mother, the woman my dad referred to as “Agnes Sarah Craney of the tight ringlets and the skinny feet.”

Of course, I’m a writer, and I’m doing a great deal of suspecting here since I love to create stories (though my dad did use that phrase often and my grandmother regaled her granddaughters about the elegant parties of the past). Since this bowl wasn’t something cheap and was used for large parties, my story could have some truth. The bowl is what is called a Tom & Jerry bowl. Tom & Jerrys were a hot drink served during the winter holidays. The drink first became popular around 1820. Its ingredients were many and expensive.

None of this information fits Jimbo’s lifestyle or interests. It doesn’t fit my mother or her family either. So I like the story I’ve woven about this bowl. Since I love lilacs and I have shades of purple in my living/dining room, this bowl will be filled with some lavender potpourri and sit on my table. Every time I glance at it, I’ll think of family.

Thank you, Jimbo and your sensitive soul, for saving this lovely bowl.

Have you found any treasures lately in places you’d never expect?

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18 Comments on “A Bowl To Remember”

  1. Deb Says:

    Ah, MJ. Reading your words, my eyes misted. And looking at your treasure, I felt a strong sense of spring and re-birth. What a glorious gift from your sons…Jimbo for saving it through the years, Steve for finding it.

    Regarding treasures found in unlikely places, when we traveled to Paris last fall we shopped in a local market. The first day there I bought some vanilla yogurt to enjoy in our rented apartment. It came in tiny glass jars (4 oz. size) that I couldn’t bear to toss. So I washed them and brought them home. They made perfect holders for tea lights, and now set the mood evenings when I write. I never imagined my second most treasured souvenir from Paris would be eight little glass yogurt jars!

  2. caseyclifford Says:

    Deb,

    I love the idea of you bringing home the little glass yogurt jars–and I know how you’ve developed a taste for yogurt.

    The photos of Tom’s parents made me think of a young woman who was at my presentation yesterday. She’s a WWII re-enacter and was going to be getting dressed in a vintage suit, hat, shoes etc to greet WWII vets returning from DC and the WWII memorial just as their loved ones were waiting for them in 1945. She even came with her hair in pincurls under a turbaned scarf which so reminded me of my mom. Have a great week.

  3. Edie Ramer Says:

    MJ, another evocative post. You always make me feel so many emotions.

    The bowl is lovely. My son has a table that was my mother’s, that she called a “cigarette table” with leather on top. I don’t know if it’s worth any money, but the link to my mother is precious.

    I rarely use the double set of China my mother gave me anymore. None of her grandchildren, including my son and his wife, want it. I suppose because it can’t be put in a dishwasher. This summer, I’m inviting the entire family to a get-together at our house, and I’ll split up the China between them. That way it will be decorative pieces and something to remember Grandma. They might even use the smaller sets for romantic dinners.

  4. huffygirl Says:

    I’m so sorry for the loss of your son. My mother died recently, although much easier to take as she was elderly and ill. My sister and I have been slowly cleaning out the house and bringing home treasured items we remember from our childhood. Finding these things and reminiscing about them has been cleansing and comforting, as I’m sure you felt when you found that bowl. I’ve written a few posts about my mom and cleaning out the house on my blog, written with tears streaming down my face, and again every time I read them. I hope you can find some comfort as you deal with this loss, and maybe writing about it will be healing for you as it has been for me.

  5. caseyclifford Says:

    Edie,

    So interesting about the table. My grandmother had one also though she never referred to it as her cigarette table. 🙂 I had it for years until we finally downsized and then my nephew and his wife gladly took it as they appreciate the history of family treasures.

    I understand about the china also. I’ve got my grandmother’s and it’s carefully packed away. I haven’t used it in years because it needs handwashing but I could never part with it to anyone but family as my Uncle Jim bought it for her.

  6. caseyclifford Says:

    Welcome to my site and thank you for commenting. I suspect after reading your comment we share a great deal. I’ve found great release in my writing and will continue to do so.

    Now I’ll skip over to your blog and check it out. Hope you stop by again some time.

  7. Nancy Kaye Says:

    I should have guessed it would be about the bowl. I was excited and think it will be a lovely reminder of your family. This is a treasure that you could build a story around. Also it brought a bit of sunshine in your life when you needed it. I was so happy you shared it with me.

  8. caseyclifford Says:

    Yes, I could build a story around it. Maybe it could be part of my Double D friends series. Oh, the possibilities…


  9. What a wonderful story of a hidden treasure found at just the right time. Thank you for sharing it and a picture of the bowl, which is just beautiful.

  10. caseyclifford Says:

    Robin,

    And I have to say this morning when I saw the lovely painted lilacs on the bowl, the snow that was falling didn’t seem quite so depressing.

  11. Kathy Goldenstein Says:

    Have you heard about Aunt Lorraine being a umpire for a semi-pro league during WWII (well for two games anyway). Mark, Lori’s husband, a few years back found a treasure trove of newspaper articles about this amazing feat. We had all heard the snippet of this story but never the whole thing (Aunt Lorraine wouldn’t talk about it), but lo and behold a google search which before had never yeilded these stories, this particular day did. She was in papers coast to coast. It was like hearing from her from heaven.

  12. caseyclifford Says:

    Kathy,

    You know I remember hearing something of that many years ago, and I think I may even have seen a photo of Aunt Lorraine in a baseball uniform. However, I can’t remember who all was talking about it and I suspect I wasn’t supposed to hear. I would bet in was at one of those Sunday all family gatherings that would happen either at Heinisch home or Grampa and Gramma D’s place. I’ll bet it was after dinner and the catcher’s mitts and baseballs would come out. Now I feel like I’ve just heard from Aunt L. Makes a dreary day so much better.

  13. carol gianforte Says:

    Thanks to Arlene, I am a new reader to your site. And what a first read for me! The cleaning and leaving of a loved ones home is a major life event for someone who is looking to treasure the memories. And you so poignantly helped us experience this with you. I remember the month it took to leave my parents’ home. (And after living long lives, that was nothing compared to the death of a son.) You gave us the understanding of a son’s message to you through a beautiful bowl.

  14. caseyclifford Says:

    Carol,

    Thank you for joining us and thank Arlene for connecting us. I’ve so enjoyed hearing about others unexpectedly finding joy in treasures in the home of departed loved ones.

    Looking forward to meeting you someday.

  15. Morganne Says:

    What a gift, Mary Jo. Maybe we are all more, and I would argue better, than what we show to the world. I certainly hope so. The story you embrace is one of love and hope and renewal of the spirit. May it and your bowl lift your pain and bring a smile always.

    Wonderful story. Thanks for the post and the insight into our collective humanity.

  16. caseyclifford Says:

    Morganne,

    I’m so glad you stopped by and left a comment. I love this bowl and whenever I look at it I weave a story of yet another party it served in a different generation.

  17. Anne Parent Says:

    I discovered something, or someone, very precious to me this week. Your friendship and encouragement mean the world to me. And, this elegant story of a bowl found in the most unlikely place is so much who you are and what you give to everyone around you. Thank you for sharing your story and thank you for being you!

  18. caseyclifford Says:

    Anne,

    My grandparents always reinforced in me to act onto others as I would hope to be treated. They were firm believers in “loving your neighbor, loving yourself, loving God.” Thank you for telling me I learned their lesson well. I’m thankful to you and all my friends for they broaden my world immeasurably.


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