Home > Inspiration, Nostalgia, Parenting > Iced Tea Spoons and Missing Mom

Iced Tea Spoons and Missing Mom

I posted earlier about the terrific book “Evocative Objects” and the resonance that things have in our lives beyond their function. I’ve also posted recently about missing my mom, who passed away three years ago. She creeps up on me at the weirdest times.  Was having an iced tea the other day and it being steamy and hot, thought I’d bust out the spoon straw to enhance my bev’s chilly goodness.  Not those plastic things you get with your Slushee, by the way, I’m talking about metal spoon/straw combos that in days of yore were made of sterling and typically used for mint juleps or iced tea.  (Here’s where Mom enters the picture…)

These are elegant objects from another era, and while you can find stainless steel versions today at Crate and Barrel and the like, they’re pale imitations of the real deal. It was a Crate and Barrel version I plunked into my drink the other day, and it occurred to me that I had no idea where the sterling spoon straws were that belonged to my mother.  Hers were early-60s vintage — wedding gifts, I’m pretty sure. They are a thing of beauty, the slender straw stems gracefully tapering to a spoon shaped like a mint leaf.  Could there be any finer way to sip your summer drink than through the cool length of a sterling silver straw?

Not Mom\'s, but close. (via ebay)

Not Mom’s, but very close (via ebay)

I bought the Crate and Barrel imposters when Mom was alive, because the sterling versions were still very much in use at her house. After she passed away, my sister and I and our uncles split up Mom’s things and most of the finer table- and flatware came to me.  Consensus was that of the four of us, I was the one most likely to use it.

But you know, I’m not sure I’ve got those spoon straws! They may have ended up with my sister; she loved them as much as I did.  If they’re not with her, that means they’re still packed away in my basement with the rest of Mom’s china and silver. 

God, there are treasures down there.  All that finery from another era, beloved posessions (mostly wedding gifts) of my beautiful 19-year old mother setting out for Europe with her Army captain husband for a life that must have seemed impossibly glamorous…dinner parties with other officers and their wives, midnight suppers, afternoon teas and bridge parties, gatherings where a sterling silver spoon straw would be an essential, not a flourish.

Picture taken by my father of Mom playing solitaire on a ferry crossing,
somewhere in France circa 1962.

Vietnam ended her dreams when my father was killed in action in 1968.  Thirty-seven years later, we buried Mom with him at the West Point cemetery.

Is there such a thing as a “gateway” evocative object?  The object that signifies the real signifier, the original object bearing memories and untapped emotion that erupt at the most unexpected times…like pouring a glass of iced tea?  The Crate and Barrel straw evokes the sterling version which evokes Mom — and not just the woman, but all her aspirations and dreams for domestic bliss and the graceful rituals of bygone eras.

I’m thinking I’ve got some unpacking to face downstairs. Boxes of cherished objects and memories await.

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