I grow up with sterling.
My mother has a set of sterling. It is important to her. It is an emblem, a badge. She does not have as extensive a set as her mother.
My sister and I know the silver is special because of our mother. We like the tiny spoons best. They are silver with gold on the bowl.
“Can we use the special spoons?” we ask. For ice cream.
“Yes,” says my mother, smiling.
We run to get them, the small spoons, heavy for their size. Silver is heavier than stainless steel. The spoon also gets colder than stainless steel and tastes different. We eat our ice cream with our special spoons very happily.
We know that the silver is sterling. I don’t know what that means for a while. It means it is not plate. Plate? But these are spoons.
My mother shows us the stamp on the back of each spoon. “See? It says sterling. That means it is silver all the way through. Plate has silver over another metal.” She shows us the back of another spoon. The bowl has a worn spot. “The silver has worn away. And it does not say sterling.” We both study the two spoons and weigh them in our hands. The plate one is lighter. My mother is scornful of silver plate.
My mother is an artist and goes to museums. She comes back from one laughing. “They have an exhibit about homes and decoration. There is a room with tv trays and very few books and wall to wall carpet and a large color television. I thought it was so dull and ugly. Then I went to the next room. Oriental carpet and books and a guitar and no television and art!” She laughs. “They have me nailed. I am such a snob and it looked just like our house!”
We do have a tv but it is the smallest black and white that you can get. And my father knocked it over one night. Now the picture is cup shaped. The top of heads are wide and swollen. Neither of my parents care enough to get it fixed or replace it. They spend their money on art supplies and books and music. Friends visit. “What is wrong with your tv?” I look at it in surprise. I am so used to the deformed picture, I stopped noticing long ago.
Once we are at my mother’s mother’s house. My mother tells another story. “I found mother sweeping to get ready for guests. She swept the dirt under the edge of the rug! I said, “MOTHER! What are you DOING!” Mother just looked at me and said, “It’s a poor mistress who doesn’t know the maid’s tricks.” My mother’s mother did grow up with servants. But not here. She was born in Turkey because her father was a minister, running an orphanage and school. My grandmother lived there until she was sixteen and the family was exiled from Turkey at the start of World War I.
I give my mother’s sterling to my niece, after my sister dies. My children are not very interested in sterling. That is ok with me. Things change and values change.
I still have some special spoons, and think of my mother and father and sister when I eat ice cream.
For the Ragtag Daily Prompt: sterling.
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