Memories and Milk Glass

Last night the Verkaik women gathered together for a girl’s night.  We joined up to laugh, devour appetizers and catch up.  We try to do this any time the “out of towners” come back for our summer visits.

However, last nights gathering had a unique purpose, to absorb the history of all the dishes, antiques and memories that fill up my Grandmother’s curio cabinets and shelves.  To divide and receive, so that we may eventually take these heirlooms and integrate them into our own homes and stories.

There was a silent battle for milk glass, a confused googling over what exactly a “hummel” is and a hilarious roar when we found a little german sculpture of a naked couple intertwined in a passionate embrace.  We decided that our unmarried cousins must use this as a cake topper…. come on ladies, please?

At one point my Aunt Ruth commented that all this colored glass and delft made up my Grandma’s life, spoke of her journey, her memories.

These dainty cups and delicate plates came from California, Vietnam and Washington.   A few pieces remained from my great grandmother’s original journey across the Atlantic from The Netherlands to America.

There is something about a tea kettle that floated past lady liberty in an old wooden trunk that takes my breath away.  So much hope, and adventurous fear contained in a small silver vessel.

We each left that night with a piece of my Grandmother’s story, but more than anything we could hold in our hands we all left with a deep sense that our most cherished gift was the gift being a woman of this family.

We’re daughters, nieces and granddaughters, whether by birth or marriage, who will carry this family into the future.  We will retell and create the stories of “us.”

Of course we will cherish the vases and plates and retell their stories, but more than that we will carry and tend the flame of identity that is infused into our blood and bones.

Every time we gather I feel inner warmth and each time we part I feel less complete for the distance.

I’m honored to be a woman in this story, my grandmother’s second granddaughter, chosen to carry her legacy into the future.  To glimpse of her life in delicate blue delft and share it, and so much more with my own daughter and granddaughters.   I will teach my Daughter to love almond paste, appreciate delft and make blueberry buckle and pea soup.

Lineage, we all have a story that spans forward and backward from this very moment.  We are all part of some collective “we” and if your family has left you story-less, I must remind you that we are brothers and sisters together you and I.  Loved children of a God whose story includes all families in an infinitely redemptive tale that has neither a beginning, nor an end.

Today, may you see all that you carry and cherish, and may you share it into the future.

  • Mark Allman

    In order to share and remember our families past one thing over the years I have done is that we keep a journal during Christmas of what we did during the holidays. There are stories that are hilarious, some sad, some heart warming and some just “this is what happened.” I also wrote poems when Jessi, Levi, and Esther turned 16 that tried to tell their life story in a poem. I have updated those as they graduated from high school and hope to continue to update them as they get older. I have learned that so much that you want to remember fades and to write it down will be something to cherish later on. I have also had journals for each child and also a vacation one but did not do a good job keeping up with those. I enjoy even now going back and reading what we did. I am sure your blog entries will be something cherished by your family.

  • Ruth

    Leanne, Very well written and it was fun! Lvu aunt ruth

    • leannepenny

      Love you too Aunt Ruth :) Even if you do have a major issue with Pink Vase Jealousy.

      • Joy

        Beautifully written, my friend. I felt like I was there…or at least wanted to be :)