A Few Lamps From His CollectionbyRedHairedandFriendly©
Becca reached over and turned down the wick on the old lamp. She ran her fingers over the warm base and slipped her hand over each individual flower that had been etched into its beautiful red glass. The power had just returned and the lamp was no longer needed. A sigh escaped her lips and she tilted her head to the side as she picked up the antique object and carried it back to the shelf where it had been sitting gathering dust.
She thought of how her father cared for his collection, a collection she'd inherited a few months ago. She placed it back on the dusty shelf and then stared at the others that were littered with cobwebs and dirt. He never would have allowed his collection to get filthy. She took the lamp back down and placed it on the table. A voice called out to her and she looked up. "Mom, what are you doing up?" her daughter asked.
She looked up and smiled. "Hey there. I figured I'd stay up until the power was restored. I was going to head to bed, but decided to do some dusting."
"Dusting?" The face of Becca's daughter Bree screwed up and she waved at the clock. "Good grief mom, its two in the morning."
Becca laughed. "Yea, I know." She turned around and lifted another lantern from the shelf, eventually her daughter helped her and they had the entire collection her father had kept in the kitchen, down on the table.
"Wow, he had a lot didn't he?" Bree asked.
"Yea, a lot. He's got more in the garage. A few in the basement. A couple he even used in the chicken coop, those weren't like these though. These are... were his "fancy" lamps. The ones he used on special occasions."
"Fancy lamps?" She chuckled and looked at several of the antique pieces. "They are fancy aren't they?" She picked up the one her mother had lit before she'd gone to bed. "They are cool. Beautiful really. Do you think we could light them all?" she asked her mom.
"All of them?" Becca asked, unsure if her daughter realized the task before them. The table had no space and even one of the counters were covered with the beautiful works of art. She shrugged her shoulders and grinned. "Why not."
"Great. I'll start washing them if you want to start filling the bases. Some are empty," Bree said. She grabbed a wash rag and a large bowl. She filled it with water, added soap and churned it several times to make a few frothy bubbles. She brought it back over and watched as her mom separated the lamps and handed her the delicate globes. "How did he get so many?" she asked.
"Gifts as well as ones that were passed down through the ages. The old metal ones are in the chicken coop. He's used those when the power would go out and he'd have to have light out there, to gather eggs early in the morning."
"Why so early?" Bree asked.
"Because he had to get to work early."
"He shouldn't have been working at his age," Bree answered.
"No, he shouldn't have," Becca agreed.
The room grew silent as Mother and Daughter washed away months of dirt and spider webs. A few sneezes filled the air as dust attempted to resettle over the gleaming piles of glass, but eventually the two had washed and filled over a dozen lamps. There were so many more to go.
"Which is your favorite?" Bree asked.
Becca's eyes lit up. "This one." She touched the red one she'd pulled down that night and had lit. "Your Great Grandma Crane collected red glass and she had several pieces she no longer wanted. She gave them to your Grandma Shanks and she invited your Aunt Sally and I over to the house. There on the floor, were all sorts of red and orange glass ornaments, figurines, vases... just lots of red all over the floor. She told us to pick what we wanted, she'd already taken what had interested her. I saw these two lamps. This one," she pointed to the floral one she had deemed her favorite, "and this one." She reached out and touched a mosaic piece and grinned.
"As soon as I saw them I knew I had to have them for your dad, but I waited. I never knew what your Aunt Sally would want, but I had a feeling she wasn't going to take anything and I was right."
"Why didn't she?" Bree asked.
Becca didn't want to sully her sister-in-law in front of her daughter and tell her that Aunt Sally was a snob and nothing but the best was good enough for her and gifts without some kind of sign that showed wealth were meaningless to her... so she shrugged her shoulders and said, "Not her taste."
"Oh," Bree answered.
"Yeah," Becca replied. "Any way, I brought dad, my dad," she smiled, "the lamps and presented them to him in a grand show. He loved them and when I came back a couple of days later he told me how beautiful this one, my favorite, was. He lit it for me during the day, and shut off the kitchen light. It was beautiful, but he said I'd have to come over sometime at night and see it in the dark."
"Did you?" she asked.
"No, tonight was the first time. I wish I had though. I wish I had taken the time to see it lit up and watch him chuckle at its beauty. Your grandpa was like that. Simple things would make him laugh."
Becca wiped a stray tear and took a deep breath. "Which is your favorite?" she asked her daughter.
Bree looked over the exquisite pieces and touched one that was full of red kerosene. "This one. I always wanted him to get it down and light it for me. But I never asked."
"Why not?" her mother asked her as she stood up and fished a lighter from her pocket. She flicked it and the flame came to life. She extended the wick and it lit up. Once she dialed it down she set the globe back over the metal tines.
"He seemed unapproachable sometimes. I didn't want to bother him."
"I understand. He was like that. But he'd have lit one for you."
"Yea, I know. I just didn't want to bother him. You never knew when he'd be in a good mood or a lousy one... know what I mean?" Bree said quietly.
"Yes, honey," she ran her fingers through her daughter's hair, "I know what you mean."
"What's your least favorite?" Bree suddenly piped up.
Becca thought a moment. Her least favorite. She closed her eyes, took a deep breath and pointed to the one she hated. "That one," she said.
"Why?" Bree asked, picking up the bottom of the lamp. She admired the blue flowers and how the base was white glass and not clear or red like several others. A basket of blueberries was depicted on it and she thought it was beautiful. She lit it and settled the globe over the flame.
"See the crack?"
It was a thin crack and had never breached the depth of the glass, but it was there. A soft gray crack that could not be seen unless someone knew where to look. "There it is," Bree whispered and looked up at her mom. "You?" she asked.
"Yep. Dad had taken it down and I had walked by the table. I was eight or nine. I bumped it and he dropped it. It fell on the table and rolled off. I caught it, but only by wedging it between my hip and the table edge. Thus the crack."
"He didn't do anything really. Just looked at me and shook his head. He took the base from my hand and I apologized. He told me to look at what I had done and to slow down. Simple words, but it was his voice. I could here the disappointment. The hurt feelings that his precious lamp was no longer perfect."
"For making you remember," she whispered.
"Bree, I'm supposed to remember. Do you know I looked for years to find another lamp that looked just like that one. I found one too. I think he keeps it in the basement though. It never seemed to fix the crack that I had put there so long ago."
The room grew silent again and when they had all the globes and bases cleansed, they worked together to light them all. "Shut off the lights Bree."
Bree did as she was asked and gazed at the swelling of flicker waves that cascaded around the room. "Wow," she whispered. "They are cool mom."
Becca shared in the beauty and agreed. "They are aren't they. They are also warm. They give off a lot of heat." She waved her hands over them and felt the rising temperature. "We ever lose the electricity in the winter we have it made."
"Yeah, roast marshmallows too," Bree added with a grin.
"Sure... ummm NOT! I can just see the gooey white ooze falling against the globes and then us scrapping it off."
"Yeah, not a good idea. We'll just eat the mallows."
"Will you keep them all?" Bree asked.
Becca stared at the mass of lights and slowly began to turn the wicks down. "Would you like me too?" she asked.
Bree grinned. "Yea, I think I would."
"Then I will."
"Thanks mom... will you keep the cracked one?"
Becca studied it and then she looked over all the lamps. Each one had a story. Each one a reason for being on her table, in her house, in her basement, and in the chicken coops that were now hers too. Each one was special to her father, even the cracked one. Each one had been a part of his life in some way. "Yes, Bree... even the cracked one."
"Night mom," her daughter said and headed back to bed.
Becca picked up the lamps and set them on their shelves. They glistened and when she reached for the final one she closed her eyes and could feel the love that pulled her back to her father. She could see his eyes lighting up as the glow of the lamp filled the room. She could smell the aroma of his pipe and she could see how he smoked it while he quietly reflected on the day... the past... the future.
She ran a finger tip down the small crack in the final lamp that had taken her down a path of memories. "Night Daddy," she said and extinguished the pain of a silly crack that had run too deep for too long.