Carrie Jane Knowles
Blog Post/March 2015
A SILVER SPOON
I thought I had lost it. It is hard to explain what a spoon might mean to someone who hasn’t gone through losing everything to Alzheimer’s, but what I thought I had lost was my mother’s silver serving spoon.
It wasn’t sterling silver. We didn’t have that kind of money. Instead, it was just silver plate and I know Mom bought it at the Methodist Church Rummage sale, her yearly shopping spree of fine linens and gently used fancy things. For me, the spoon was the essence of my mother.
She loved treasure hunting at rummage sales and second hand stores. She took great pride and also great joy in setting a table with fine linen, good china and silver. But, what I loved about her most was that she used her pretty treasures every day, not just for special occasions. She believed in the transformative magic of sharing a meal.
When we moved our mother from her home to an Alzheimer’s unit, I was the one who got the spoon. It had been used so many times by then to serve mashed potatoes, fruit salad, and green beans, and had been polished by my mother just as many times as it had been used, that the silver had worn off on the back of the spoon. I carried the spoon home in my suitcase and, like my mother, used it every day.
After my mother died, my husband made the kindest of gestures and surprised me with having the serving spoon re-silvered. It was like new again and forced me to think back on all the meals it had served and all the times my mother had taken pleasure in setting her table with her second hand fancy things.
Then one day I discovered it was gone. Misplaced, perhaps, so I cleaned out all my kitchen drawers. When I didn’t find it there, I started calling friends hoping I had left it at one of their homes when we shared a meal.
No one had it. And then it snowed and there was ice and it had been a long time since we had seen our good friends Susan and John, so we made plans to have dinner together at their home. We were to bring dessert.
Sick of winter, I splurged and bought blueberries, raspberries and strawberries, and tossed them together with candied orange peel and orange liqueur. While I was whipping cream for the berries, Susan took my bowl and grabbed a serving spoon from her kitchen drawer.
I didn’t notice it at first because it hadn’t been polished in a while, but as we talked and laughed and reached for seconds on dessert, I recognized the spoon.
I picked it up and rolled it gently in my fingers, looking at the shiny spot on the back where it had been repaired. It was hers. It was mine, and I felt connected again to a life that had once slipped away one memory at a time.
The Last Childhood, my memoir that explores the impact Alzheimer’s has on family members, will be reissued June 2015 by Second Wind Publishing.