Friday, August 13, 2010


My mother, Elsa, is always cleaning out some cupboard or box in her house. Recently she found a tea-set she played with as a child. This tiny little collection is fragile but un-knicked. Each piece is still perfect.

When I think of 'fragile', I focus on tea-sets, fine china, heirloom platters that are pulled out for the Thanksgiving turkey. I think of my aunt's Waterford crystal aperitif glasses she would use when all the adults gathered for a celebration or funeral. I remember sternly being told to handle the glasses with care as I hand washed and dried them. They were fragile...

But many 'things' are fragile. My niece's feelings are very fragile. A sharp word or misunderstood email has her in tears. 
A bird's nest blown out of a bush is fragile. The eggs all exposed, two of them cracked, one other still intact - all are fragile. When I bent to pick it up, I did so with a gentleness I rarely feel or use in daily tasks. 
And the neighbor's 6 year old son, Zane - when he fell off his brand new two wheel bicycle, his crumpled body appeared so fragile on the sidewalk. Zane's arms were spewed over his head; his skinny legs were locked in the spokes of the rear tire; and his silent tears were louder than any scream I have ever heard. He was so fragile!

Earlier this week, when my husband had surgery, I saw a fragile side of him. After waiting what seemed like hours to see him, I was lead back to his bedside. His eyes were closed. Oxygen was still hooked up, an IV tube continued to pump fluid into his veins on his right hand. His left hand was folded across his chest. It looked so fragile. This strong, steady hand was slack and unmoving. 
Suddenly, everything about E. was fragile. 
And always will be.

e.e. cummings said it so well in his poem
(i do not know what it is about you that closes
and opens;only something in me understands
the voice of your eyes is deeper than all roses)
nobody,not even the rain,has such small hands
And now I believe rain can be fragile, too.


Tracy said...

So very true, Brenda. I hope your husband is getting along okay.

giantspeckledchihuahua said...

Ah! So that's where you have been. I hope your husband's recovery is quick and each day brings new found strength.

I, too, have memories of my mom's fragile treasures. I wish she could find the strength to allow her daughters to help her clean. I know, at least part of her reluctance, is due to the fact that not one of her five daughters have no place to keep her treasures.

Pat Tillett said...

I guess at some level we are all fragile. Maybe not as much as a bird egg, but still fragile.

This was a really good and thought provoking post. Thanks!

altadenahiker said...

Simply and perfectly said. You led us through the meaning of fragile -- how important an irreplaceable object seems until you see it next to an irreplaceable person. I’m sending good thoughts your way, and hope E is home soon, if he’s not home already.

Lucy said...

Said so beautifully! I also hope your husband will be back and up and around very soon. You must have a wonderful marriage.

The Retired One said...

For sure! I really saw this when we took my Mom home into our house for her last 2 months of life...(she died of cancer in our home 5 years ago) is not the right order of things to care for your Mom, she is supposed to always care for you (that is how a child thinks)...but we saw all kinds of fragile and comforted her as much as we could until her last breath.

Sandra said...

you said it all and perfectly and there is nothing more fragile than our spouse when they are ill. it scared me silly when my big and very strong hubby that can do any and everything, had open heart surgery and was weak as a kitten. that was 3 years ago and he is as strong as ever. when he came home i thought oh no, 3 months later he was not quite so fragile, and got better each day. I pray your spouse will also

BANJO52 said...

Google is fighting me. Hope all is OK.

Ginny said...

I am sorry to hear your husband had to have surgery, I hope he is home now? I saw the same thing in my husband when he had surgery, walking down that long hall with the dreaded back opening gown on, wearing the knee length compression hose, I wanted to run and scoop him up and take him home. I love your connection of this with EE Cummings, I have his poetry and love it. "The Love Song Of Alfred J. Prufrock" "Let us go then, you and I, when the evening is spreading out against the sky". I can't believe that toy china set does not have one chip!!! May we be so lucky.

Elaine said...

Very well written and thoughtful post! It is very difficult to be faced with the fragility of a dear spouse. That does always stay with you, even when he is recovered and strong again. Hopefully your husband is on the road to recovery and will be back to normal soon.

I do love your mother's tea seat. Somehow that beautiful little tea set is very symbolic. It looks so fragile, but to have survived all these years it has an inner strength. Did it travel with you to all the many places you lived, or was it stored away in an attic somewhere?

Kathy said...

I've missed you. Hope E. is getting better and stronger.

Brenda's Arizona said...

Elaine, I recall the tea-set and other such non-essentials were packed away and left in my grandfather's shed/barn. My mother didn't re-claim them until I was out of high school.

E is doing much better. We are having fun while he is recuperating. Thank you all for well wishes. I especially like your stories and fragile memories. Amazing how so many things in life fragile, including life itself.

Thérèse said...

Fragile is a word we should reflect on quite often.
I am glad your husband is recuperating nicely.