I bought a lamp the other day. What was interesting about this lamp was that it had, had multiple owners before. It is absolutely beautiful. The dark metal base has four “feet” each splayed out like those of a baby elephant. The stem has a bulbous sort of a transparent appearance that shines through with a greenish hue when the lamp is lit and the shade is an old tiffany style with multicolored leaded glasses glued together that sends a beautiful kaleidoscopic rainbow of colors on to the wall. The real treasure lies under the base, a most telling feature of this lamp, an inscribed signature dated 1901. The date checks out with the antique market makers.
Why this lamp?
As it so happens it reminds me of my grandmother’s house. And in that stitched together confetti of a history is a remembrance of a frail man that came to the house. He had a lamp just like this one, or so I think. It was beautiful. The man, a salesman, would not sell it. The more he was pressured to sell, the more he resisted. He would point out to other things that were for sale, but always held on to the lamp. The mystery was too much for my grandparents. So the cajoling and the sweetness and the invites began. He became a frequent guest to the house. Soon the lamp was forgotten and a great friendship evolved. A few years later the man passed away. Shortly thereafter the lamp appeared in a large brown box via a courier. The sadness that followed by its mere appearance was enough to give my grandmother the “vapors” as she would call them. The lamp took a cherished place in the house, in the foyer. It was perfect there on the table against the wall with a bouquet of fresh flowers that filled the vase daily. It was a meaningless object but oh, so filled with meaning. On the base of that lamp, I remember, was an etched date “1901.”
The lamp, I bought sits on my desk at home. It is a reminder of a reminder. A past, so long ago that time would forbid the removal of the key that opens the door to that remembrance. And yet here it is. And it does bring back a cataract of those yesteryears.
I was asked the other day why do I cherish it so? I replied, “Because it takes me to a life that once might have been.” Yes, I chose those words wisely, I think. You see what remains of that time is nothing more than a nuance, a whisper but it has been embellished over time to form a beautiful memory. Did it happen, exactly as I remember it, I dare say, I don’t know? It did happen and now with all the holes covered over by my mind’s fuzzy logic a beautiful endurance resides, called back at the sight of this lamp.
Memories (cartoon) by JediPD
Life is funny that way. There are things that would not have any meaning to a 6-year-old, that become etched without reason into the wall of memories only to find relief later when you run your fingers across that wall. Yes, this is one inconsequential memory buried deep that so alights onto my consciousness through the shallows of a tiffany lamp. The salesman lives and so do my grandparents. Maybe that is why some of us have trinkets that we cherish, not for their material worth but so we can hold on to the fading memories of the people and time gone by.
Life is a lonely sport enjoyed through the prism of reflection. Through it all as we build the scaffolding of the edifice of our being, filling in the “fill-ins” of our imagination, we objectify them for reference, we hold them for reverence and cherish them for who we have become!
Or maybe, I am getting too darn sentimental!