The Other I

March 16, 2010

Opera glasses with lost provenance

Filed under: Growing Old,Just Stuff — theotheri @ 5:19 pm

I sometimes think these days that we spend the first three-quarters of our lives acquiring things and the last quarter trying to get rid of them responsibly.  Assuming things are not yet ready for the trash bin, there are the easy off loads to Oxfam and other charities.  I always feel slightly guilty giving them my discards but they ask for them, so I pass them on feeling more like the recipient than the donor.

But some things are more challenging.  Especially those things which belonged to earlier generations.  Who is willing to be the custodian for the next generation of these exquisite tea cups that nobody drinks from anymore?  Or this old-fashioned brooch that belonged to my husband’s grandmother?  Or this wool shawl lovingly knitted by a great aunt?

Antique Mother of Pearl and brass French opera glasses

Now Peter and I have discovered a new twist to our problem.  We’ve had a pair of opera glasses in a rather fine leather case floating around in a drawer for years.  They are never used, but since they belonged to his mother, I have not felt it was up to me to worry about them.  But yesterday he mentioned that they had belonged, not to his mother, but to mine.

I was flabbergasted.  Opera glasses belonging to my mother?!  And even if they had, how would I ever have gotten possession of them?  He was equally adamant that they did not, could not, have belonged to his mother or anyone else in his family.

So now we have this rather posh set of opera glasses with absolutely no idea to whom they belong.  I asked my sister who said in the same tone of voice I’d used “Is Peter sure they didn’t belong to his mother?”

My guess is that somehow they came from my family, but I have no idea by what route.  “Made in Japan” is the only hint I’ve managed to find thus far, which doesn’t narrow the field by much.

Perhaps Oxfam can use them along with my discarded books and old shoes?

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