Hold All Things Loosely

When I was about 10, my parents felt comfortable enough leaving my older sister and I home for a few hours while they went food shopping. Every Saturday Mom and Dad visited the food store while we were left home to dust and vacuum the house.

Back then I preferred to dust rather than taking out the noisy vacuum. Wiping off the top of the television set, my father’s precious stereo speakers, and some shelving seemed an easy task compared with moving furniture to suck up dust balls from under the couch.

Mom had quite a collection of glassware from her mother displayed on shelving near the living room. Once a month a good amount of time was spent taking down the glasses, washing them, and then carefully placing them back on the shelves for all to see. The glasses were never used, and truthfully I don’t think they were even noticed or admired. No-one even noticed the few glasses we had broken while playing a short game of tennis in the living room.

My parent’s bulky bedroom furniture had a light green hue with doors that opened from the center allowing access to its belly of drawers within. Mom’s dresser was topped with a huge mirror that must have been almost 4’ wide and about 3’ tall. It was hard not to stare at my face as I wiped the dust particles from its surface.

She kept a long lacey runner down the center of the dresser with a rectangular glass tray sitting on top. This is where Mom carefully displayed vintage glass perfume bottles and small ceramic dishes for her hair clips and safety pins. Tall bottles of hand cream and hair spray stood behind her ever present comb and brush. Lamps were set at each end of the dresser giving a soft glow to the entire room.

Many Saturdays I took each of these items off her dresser, wiped dust that seemed to reappear after seconds of each swipe, and placed everything back in its place. All of these items may have been held dear by my mother since we spent so much time making them shine, but she never shared any of this information with me.

About 35 years later, after Mom lost her short battle with lung cancer, my younger sister and I had the task of cleaning out her apartment. The well-made dresser still stood tall even though some of the drawers now stuck. While the hand cream and hair spray bottles had changed, a few of the glass and ceramic pieces still sat on top of her glass tray with the lace doily underneath.  

With tears streaming down my face and one swift intentional motion, I used my arm like a street broom and swept any remaining trinkets into a large mouth garbage can placed at the end of the dresser.  These pieces of glass and plastic meant absolutely nothing to me. They held no secret. They told no story. They would never fill even one drop of the emptiness caused by my mother’s loss. I would never be able to “re-spend” the time used dusting these useless pieces of glass.

From that point in my life, I vowed to be a collector of things that would never lose value. I would collect experiences and friendships. I would amass stories with happy endings and hysterical outcomes. My life would be wisely spent loving, encouraging, and touching the lives of as many people as God would allow. I would experience adventures with my family and make sure to share my stories with them.

My earnest hope and prayer is that whoever will be responsible for clearing off my dusty dresser will have their own collection of fond memories and grand stories of times we shared together.

Linda Guteres

February, 2020

6 thoughts on “Hold All Things Loosely

  1. Stephanie says:

    And then during a pandemic in the parking lot of Brooklyn you still choose to drive all that way to meet your cousins ex-wife and collect your dear old Aunt Mary’s treasures! You are a blessing to all you meet and I am honored that you still consider me a friend. Love you!!


    1. My dear Stephanie. You are what I call “framily”…a family member who I also choose to call friend! It was great meeting you in the parking lot that day in March! We really walked on the edge by hugging in the parking lot too! The china is beautiful. I’m still looking for its proper home. I want to make sure it is used to gather people together, around a table, to share a meal, and then to revisit those times as cherished memories! Love you!


  2. Ginny says:

    Beautiful story Linda. Good message of collecting memories and helping others instead of collecting things that won’t mean anything or help anyone else.


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