Friends and family members have this odd idea that I am a borderline hoarder, a keeper of useless possessions because I am an offspring of parents who survived the Depression and Dirty Thirties where the true value of each item is not to be forgotten.
I am not a hoarder. I am thrifty, which means if there’s a minute of life remaining in an object, I will not be the one to take away that last bit of life.
And that attitude sometimes means I do occasionally hang on to certain items that to outsiders appear to have outlived their usefulness.
I have absolutely no regrets that I still use the hand-embroidered dish towels made for me before I left the parental home 53 years ago. Ditto the hand-embroidered pillow cases. They are more than towels and pillow cases. They are exhibits of my Mother’s artistry, cleverness with embroidery thread and a needle, and the longevity manufactured into the flour and sugar bags that became these useful household items.
Why would I discard these towels and pillowcases after all these years, when in fact, they are still perfectly useful, even with a few tears in the towels and thread-bare spots on the pillow cases. Newly purchased ones would take years to become soft and comfortable, and thus a waste of money for our aging household.
Then there are the sets of mixing bowls in the kitchen cupboard. The yellow, plastic threesome was added to my towels and bedding when I left home. The white set was received as a shower gift. And the green set was purchased at the Army & Navy Department Store in about 1970. I paid about $2.99 for the daddy bowl, mommy bowl and baby bowl and through all the years, those green bowls were used in co-operation with the six other bowls, the white fitting into the yellow which fit into the green so all fit perfectly on the top shelf of the cupboard.
The daddy green bowl became the most used, it being the perfect size for mixing batter, holding water in which to peel potatoes and carrots, and sometimes even for gathering vegetables from the garden. The green colour didn’t show the stains from the rhubarb or berries and that’s why the white and yellow bowls were never put into such service.
On the occasion when a gravy boat was required but wasn’t near at hand, the baby green bowl was substituted. The mommy green bowl was the perfect size for whipping cream or in which cake icing was mixed.
One horrific day I noticed a tiny crack in the large green bowl. I nurtured it carefully for several more years. Then one day I went to the cupboard to retrieve that bowl and found the tower of mixing bowls would not budge from the shelf. I noticed immediately that they were stacked incorrectly and I summoned Housemate to provide assistance — without accusing him outright of not stacking them properly after he dried the dishes.
Days later a shimmer of moisture replaced the gleam in my eye. The tiny crack in the green bowl was now gigantic and salvage was impossible. I did wonder momentarily if I might successfully hold it together with a swath of Gorilla tape but better sense prevailed.
And so my favourite mixing bowl has gone to mixing bowl heaven, with my thanks for all the work it did for us while it lived in our cupboards and on our shelves. Well done, you good and faithful servant. But know this: If I could have saved you, I would have.
But that does not make me a hoarder.
Joyce Walter can be reached at email@example.com
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the position of this publication.