When I was little, my mom had three ceramic mixing bowls. There was a green one, a yellow one with handles that served as spouts, and a yellow one with flowers that had been her mother's. Before the stainless steel mixing bowls entered our lives, everything she baked was mixed in these bowls. The flowered one was the largest, so it was the one she called for most often. She taught me to make yeast bread in that bowl, and I watched nasty potato salad come to life repeatedly in that bowl.
My mom died in 1998, and I took her ceramic mixing bowls and her vacuum to remember her by. The fact is, I am not that sentimental and I took these things because I could use them. When I took the bowls, one of my siblings wanted the flowered bowl. Or maybe the flowered bowl was broken. Whichever it was, I only took two of the mixing bowls.
It just so happened that my friend Janet had an estate sale habit that often benefited me. She was forever finding treasures for a song; she also found lots of junk, but I guess sometimes junk must be sorted in order to find treasures. About a year after my mother died, Janet gifted me with a flowered mixing bowl in a smaller size than my mother had. Janet did not know the story of the flowered mixing bowl, but it did not change the twinge of happy, warm feelings I had when I received the bowl. My low level of sentimentality meant that I was glad to have a bowl similar to my mother's, but I was also glad to use it.
Last year, Janet died, and with her, the steady flow of strange treasures in our lives. And this morning, I broke the bowl. I have been knitting many hours the past few days, and I guess my thumb was too tired to grip the freezing cold bowl. We had given the dog table scraps in it last night, and I was bringing it in this morning. As I shut the door, my left thumb simply released the bowl onto the floor.
I suddenly realized that my not so tender heart was a little hurt by the loss of this thing that actually had two people mixed up in it.