All that was left of my grandmother’s teacups were an odd few. One-by-one each of her teacup and saucer sets had been adopted and taken home by relatives. Of the thirteen grandchildren, twelve of them being girls, I lived the farthest away. If not the very last one to choose, I was close to being one of the last ones to make my selection. As my eyes surveyed the shelf of the remaining teacups and saucers, I spied an elegant porcelain teacup sitting off to the side. Of the few teacups that I could have chosen, I was drawn to the imperfect one.
No saucer accompanied the eggshell-thin teacup, but it was still pretty enough with its softly painted flowers in full bloom and it’s dainty little pedestal. My mom remembered that at one time there was a matching saucer to the teacup, but thought it must have broken over the years. She asked if I was sure about my selection, since there were complete sets to choose from, but I said yes, I was sure.
I took the teacup home and stared at it. What in the world made me choose this one? It was very unlike me, a middle child who tried so hard to be perfect, to pick out something “defective.” I cherished the teacup, but felt sad for its incompleteness. I realize now it was the part of me that had hope – hope that I could find a matching saucer. Somewhere in this world was a cup-less saucer waiting to be reunited with its cup! So began my quest. As my husband and I browsed through antique stores, he would always find me in the back corners searching through stacks of odds and ends saucers. Then when eBay came into being, I scoured the offerings to see if there was a match. Finally I gave up.
Although I gave up actively searching for a matching saucer for my teacup, I did not give up hope. I had, however, reconciled myself to the fact, that if I never found the saucer, I would still be happy with the delicate porcelain reminder of my grandmother.
One day when I was visiting my parents, my mom pulled out a brown paper bag. She knew of my quest. “I found this in some of grandma’s stuff,” she said to me as she handed me the bag. I opened it slowly. Having grown up during the Great Depression, my grandmother threw away nothing. After she passed away and the family was going through her possessions, we found a bundle of pantyhose packages tied together neatly with string. Attached to the string was a note scrawled in my grandmother’s tiny, Parkinson’s-affected handwriting, “crotch too short.” As I gazed at the contents in the little brown bag, I thanked my grandmother for being the pack-rat she was. For inside the bag was the saucer I had spent years searching for – she had kept the saucer all those years even though it was broken into four pieces!
After my husband lovingly glued the pieces back together, I put my grandmother’s teacup and saucer in a glass curio case along with all my other teacup and saucer sets. As it turns out, in my search for the missing saucer, I never went home empty-handed. I managed to accumulate quite a nice teacup collection of my own to pass down to my grandchildren. So thanks, Grandma, for saving the dainty teacup, even though it had a broken saucer, and thanks for saving the broken bits of saucer, too. We never gave up hope, did we?