Letting go can be a mistake

One of my prized possessions is an antique Aladdin gas lamp that sits on a small round table in the living room. It was a wedding present to my parents when they were married 80-plus years ago.

It was their only wedding present. There was no reception with cake and ice cream or honeymoon following the nuptials at the courthouse.

Times were tough in the mid-'30s. Following the brief ceremony, my parents picked up a cow and hauled it back home in the back of the pickup truck.

I don't know who gave them the lamp, but it isn't important. The lamp is part of my heritage, one of the few precious items I have from those early years of their lives.

Recently, I was at an antique shop surrounded by people, some antiquing but many expressing remorse when seeing objects similar to those once owned by their families now lining shelves in antique shops

"I wish our parents had been better savers," said one sister to another. "I remember they had a table just like the one sitting there."

I understood these two elderly sisters who wished their parents had kept the table for it was part of their heritage, and yet, even if the inclination had been there, most likely the space wasn't.

Space was a luxury many rural Americans of my parents' generation didn't have. The land was more important than the house.

I remember my mother talking about the marble top that added a touch of luxury to the old dresser in her parents' small farm house. When the dresser no longer could be fixed and had to be discarded, she asked for and received the marble top.

But, as a new wife frequently moving from place to place, the marble top seemed to be out of sync with the rest of her life. During one move, a choice had to be made and, as hard as it was, she gave up the marble top.

As the years passed, she often talked about that marble top, a part of her past that she could never recapture. That marble top held a bit of herself, who she was and those who came before her.

As I wander through antique shops I wonder if I, too, have made mistakes and gotten rid of things that were to be part of our children's heritage.

Not for lack of room, but of understanding.

Joyce Ore

Joyce Ore writes delightful stories about life with a dose of humor and sprinkle of nostalgia. Her column appears Saturday in the Tribune.

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