“Save the pieces.” Even now, it is one of the catch phrases that has stood the test of time. Good advice for someone like me who’s been described as a bull in a china shop. When I stopped to think about catch phrases, it wasn’t long before I had assembled quite a list of similar little pieces of wisdom I hadn’t even realized were in play. See if any of these ring a bell with you.
“Were you born in a barn?” Or how about, “Do you work for the electric company?” Ring any bells?…oops, that’s another one. You see, they’re everywhere. Collectively, all these seemingly random pieces served to teach me to be careful around glassware, close the door behind me and turn off the lights on my way out.
But it isn’t just me. Local merchants since the Stone Ages have seen guys like me walk into their stores. Why else would they feel the need to post signs with the warm fuzzy message, “You break it, you bought it”. Talk about a targeted piece of advisory wisdom! But it works. Why else would I instinctively feel my arms stiffen at my sides like a wooden soldier? I don’t want to break anything. But there it is. Whether it’s on a store shelf or in my cupboard, broken pieces must be bought or thrown out. But what if there were another option? Which brings me back to saving the pieces.
Why save them? Why do we instinctively come back to our homes after a tornado, flood or fire to pick through the rubble. Are a few photos or a bronzed pair of baby shoes that valuable?
Breakage applies to other parts of our lives. Love affairs that should never have been, divorce, all manners of abuse and hatred? Lots of broken pieces. If you’ve ever lost your job or lived through a plant closure or been on a Paris street on a Friday night, you’ve suffered breakage. Are there glimmers in any of that worth saving?
All of which brings me to what I learned from my Grandma Mabel.
Glue for the knob on the post at the base of the stairs. She had glue for heels. She had glue for the cow’s tail that had come off the salt shaker and for the handle my dad broke off her favorite coffee cup when he was a little kid. And grandma’s glue? It stuck. It held.
During one of our visits, I came bounding into the kitchen to find her bent over the wooden plant stand she’d laid out on the kitchen table like she was in surgery. Watching her extract the broken dowel rod, she then proceeded to paint a new bit of wood with glue and gently slide it back into place. “Good as new.”
“Grandma, why don’t you just buy a new one. Why do you save the pieces?”
Her answer sticks with me to this day. “You can’t make new pieces, but save them and you can glue them back together.”
Having first heard about the terrorist attacks in Paris on Friday night, I was taken by the image of all the pieces of broken glass for as far as the eye could see. Without needing to see the dead and wounded, I knew each piece of glass was only a token for what the barrage of bullets had done to the flesh and bone of the dead and wounded. I was quieted as I watched in stunned silence. Again. This is becoming all too frequent of an exercise.
The longer I live, the more I realize how important it is to capture snapshots of pieces along my journey. I think back to people I used to work with. In those moments of time, it felt like I’d be working with them forever. But I didn’t. But I have pieces…bits of the good things, reflections of Light.
I think back to friends I had back in the day. On those warm afternoons in their company, I remember thinking it was the most perfect day…that I needed to remember it. And I did. Those friends are not here anymore. I thought we were going to live forever. But we don’t. No one does. But I have pieces of them, bits of the good things, reflections of Light.
Same thing for family members. Moments of time. Chairs on the porch. Sitting around the table, doubled over in laughter. Quiet moments holding a hand between the sounds of the ventilator. I have pieces of them, bits of the good things, reflections of Light in an otherwise dark place.
Pieces can be anything . You never know when you’re going to find one.
This morning I was running errands. While I was driving around, I happened to catch a passage from The Moldau by Smetana…it was only three or four minutes long, but I claimed it. It was good to unexpectedly get reacquainted with an old friend, musical or otherwise. I know it well. It is a good piece I can pull up in my head anytime I want or need to.
So to answer my earlier question. Yes. No matter how shattered or insignificant your pieces may seem to anyone else, they are yours and essential. Grandma had a way of knowing we weren’t falling apart as much as we were just getting ready to be put back together. And the glue to keep it together? Grandma knew that too.
Love and hold together real tight for a few minutes.
Good as new.
Peace for Paris pic.twitter.com/ryf6XB2d80- jean jullien (@jean_jullien) November 13, 2015: http://www.lohud.com/story/entertainment/2015/11/14/Artist-Jean-Julliens-Eiffel-Tower-Peace-Sign-Goes-Viral-After-Paris-Terror-Attacks/75768758/?csp=etonline; Grandma Walton: http://amorefieldlife.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/05/grandma.jpg; instagram%20peace%20with%20paris_1447526250739_491851_ver1_0: http://www.fox32chicago.com/news/48996277-story
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