When I was about six or seven years old, Mom and her sister Aunt Dorie were given a very rare antique oil lamp for safekeeping. It was their mother’s lamp, handed down from her parents, circa 1860s. Mom and Aunt Dorie were to keep this precious parlor lamp by rotating it between them, both enjoying the beauty of the lamp and protecting it from any damage because, as they always said post-depression era, “It’s worth something.” Grandma was very specific about how this lamp was to be cared for and in no uncertain terms was it to be abused or displayed in a high-traffic, risky place. This lamp was obviously, in her mind, right up there with a Ming Dynasty vase. It was a recipe for disaster in houses with kids.
The lamp was delicate. It was made of very, very thin satin glass. The pedestal was very ornate brass. The bowl was beautifully shaped with bunches of grapes silhouetted three-dimensionally on the sides. Then there was another ornate brass connector to the globe, which matched the bowl. Mom and Aunt Dorie took the greatest of care moving it. And it was Mom’s turn to keep it. She had cleared a very special place on an antique table in the corner of our living room. They took special care in putting a matching lace doily beneath the brass pedestal. Both looking at it and remarking that it was so beautiful and agreeing that “God forbid anything ever happening to that lamp because mom would be so devastated.”
Well, one summer’s day Aunt Dorie and Mom met at our house to go to town. They left my next oldest brother Larry in charge of my cousin Steve and me with specific instructions that we were not to play with “that balloon” in the house. The balloon in question was this huge larger-than-a-beach ball balloon somebody had picked up at the county fair or some such place. It was so big that I could lay on top of it and couldn’t touch the floor with my hands. Mom and Aunt Dorie left. Larry told us to play and not cause any trouble. Seems like he left the living room to get something in the kitchen and that brief moment he was away, was all the time it took for Steve and me to commit the unpardonable sin. We bounced that balloon between us and one of us hit it back and it bounced off s across the room toward the top of that lamp.
It was like a slow motion, “Oh NOOOOOOO!!!” In a split second those grapes were shattered in a million pieces. There was no putting all the pieces back together. Oh boy, were we in trouble. And Larry got most of the blame for not watching us closer. Aunt Dorie started looking for a replacement globe. As the Lord asked in Obadiah 1:5, “if the grapegatherers came to you, would they not leave some grapes?” No luck in finding that globe of grapes! It was five years before the sisters could get enough courage to tell their mother what happened to the lamp. Grandma responded, “I’m sure they didn’t mean to do it.” All that worry gone in one forgiving sentence. Probably 20 years later, Aunt Dorie found a suitable globe, but not exact. Grandma, Mom and Aunt Dorie are in heaven now. I don’t know where the lamp is, but I saw one on eBay like it and it’s worth about $1,000. Who would have thought?