Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Of Cupboards and Cornflake Boxes

I had spent Wednesday upstairs, emptying, cleaning and organizing cupboards, while from the kitchen below the distant whine of an electric screwdriver drifted up--new cupboard doors were being attached to our still sturdy, old cupboard frames.The bathroom cupboards were next to be renewed once the kitchen was finished.

Without thinking, I emptied the contents of a clear plastic jewelry organizer onto the bathroom counter-top, so that I could wash and dry it--and instantly the chains of four necklaces formed a pile that became tangled around each other and two red coral earrings. More haste, less speed, I thought, with a sigh.

I tried letting the chains loosely fall apart in my fingers, as much as they would without tugging. Mum had taught me how to do this when I was a child, and I remembered how no matter how tight the knot in a thread, or how hopelessly knotted a chain was, somehow, she was always able to undo it; just one of her special talents! I managed to disengage one of the earrings, but I didn't have the time right then to continue, and one of the chains had woven itself intractably around the remaining earring. It looked as though I would have to undo the chains before the earring could be freed. I laid the jumble on the lamp table beside my reading chair, to be worked on later.

The kitchen cupboards were finished by early afternoon, and looked beautiful. Instead of golden oak colonial, the doors were now a more modern dark chocolate brown, with simple, clean lines and elegant brushed silver T bar handles.

On my way up to bed in the evening, before turning out the lights, I paused to admire them one more time, and again, Mum came to mind. How she would have loved the new cupboards! She always longed for a nice home, but it was a dream that evaded her. Instead, she took great pleasure in ours. I felt a pang of sadness. I would have so much loved to share this joy with her. Instead, I whispered, "Aren't they beautiful Mum? I'm enjoying them for both of us."

Upstairs I sat down in my reading chair to check my phone for messages and then reached for the chains, intending to work on them a little longer before bed. To my surprise, the coral earring, which I had been sure was so firmly entangled, lay by the chains, but no longer attached.

Had I untangled it and forgotten? I was sure that I would have put it away with the matching earring in the jewelry organizer if I had. 

On Saturday, my brother Rob called from England and I told him about the new cupboards and how they'd made me think of Mum. 

He interrupted me before I could finish, "Belinda, you won't believe this, but in the middle of the week, I was thinking about Mum too. I was in my kitchen, and thought of how she was always filling out the contests on the Cornflakes boxes."

"Win Your Dream Home!" he said, "That's what the caption always said, and there would be a smiling housewife standing in front of a beautiful modern home, half brick and half white cladding. She always used to say, 'I don't want anything special, just reasonable.'"

I remembered that too, and could hardly wait to tell him the rest of my story--about the tangled chains--ending with the earring inexplicably lying apart from them. 

He laughed, "Oh, my Belinda--and the chains were in the shape of M-U-M," he embellished, "and there was a piping hot cup of tea on the table, just like Mum used to make." Now we were both laughing.

"How lucky we were to have Mum, and Mum's love. Not everybody has that," said Rob.

And, I thought, such love lasts forever.


Charliene said...

What a lovely story Belinda...and what a lucky woman to have had the good fortune to have such a wonderful Mum. Your new cupboards are so modern and I just love the clean lines! Once again you made me shed a tear as such love stories always do.

Belinda Burston said...

Dear Charliene, thank you for reading--that always is an honour when there is so much to read these days. I'm glad the story touched your heart. Our bond with Mum was very special, and her love goes on! Glad you approve of the cupboards too. :)