What forgotten stories in your life need dusting off and refreshing? I was rummaging for something in the back of the china cabinet, and there it was staring back at me, black, dull and dusty. As I shuddered to think of what Carson might say if such tarnish accumulated on any silver service at Downton Abbey, I pulled the teapot out for a closer look. I studied the scrolled handles and joints swirled in shades of grey and black and thought of the years it stood on my mother’s buffet as a sign of suburban success. Yes, a revival was in order. I think the result speaks for itself. What do you think?
I pulled on a pair of rubber gloves, located the silver polish, wet the squishy sponge, dabbed it in purple paste, and then rubbed it on the black metal. The sponge quickly turned black with tarnish. Rinse off and repeat. Soon I noticed sweat dripping down my forehead, my hair falling down around my face as I scrubbed and scrubbed for forty-five minutes. Why I’d become so determined, I wasn’t sure. But slowly patches of silver shone through.
As I turned the teapot around, I cleaned it from different angles, and on all sides. Metaphorically, I kept thinking about Henry Zguda’s story, and so many other survivor stories, that lay quietly put away in the back of a cabinet, or drawer, or shelf, forgotten until someone resurrects them. What other parts of our lives do we ignore or discount, when only some sweat and polish will restore them to new? Who else might have a set of family memories worth resurrecting?
Slowly, the layers of tarnish came off, the shine came back, and the reward is a gleaming silver teapot, as it once proudly stood on my mother’s dining buffet, part of the full tea service that included the creamer, sugar bowl, and footed platter. Emboldened, I moved on to two small candlesticks, then decided there’s a reason silver is no longer in vogue. It takes time to maintain and requires regular polishing. I need more time, not more things to do.
I didn’t think to take a picture of the tarnished beginning. And perhaps that’s like so many of us. We only want to remember the ‘after’ photos, and never the ‘before’ photos, though the contrast marks the time and attention invested in a project.
I think my mother would approve.