We do not have the world’s largest ball of rubber bands in our home. What’s pictured is one in a museum. What we do have in our home’s kitchen window is a rubber band collection on a scruffy, water-spotted birch candlestick that my father turned on his lathe.
It rested in the kitchen window above the sink in my parents’ home, a stalwart sentry of anti-waste and pro-convenience. Like my parents. Their frugalness was not born in the Great Depression, but in the wartime rationing of WWII. Waste not, want not was an unspoken mantra for every move in the house. The shabby wood column sat swathed in rubber bands of all circumferences, colors, and utility, almost as a queen ringing her neck with fine jewelry. The wood was unadorned in varnish’s bling, yet it attracted the eye with its purpose.
After my mother’s funeral service and the luncheon prepared by the Women’s Guild, my siblings wrangled at length over whose sources had donated the floral arrangements and, thus, who should get to take them home. I was nonplussed, for we were thousands of miles from our home in California, with no possibility of rewarding ourselves with floral largesse. I stood beside my father and held his hand as he whimpered that he couldn’t believe she was gone. Me, too, I guess.
The church parlor carpet was a plush Persian, with jewel-toned florals. It was a great distraction for my re-doubled grief. Downcast eyes removed my heart from the sadness of the setting.
Then, I spied it: a blue rubber band. My mother’s favorite color – and mine. It was most certainly a sign from her and God. I quickly snatched it up and closed my fist to finesse it to a pocket. I smiled at its blessing: a means of re-directing my energies amidst the squabbling siblings and the sad dad.
The rubber band collection now sits in the kitchen window above in sink in our home. Waste not, want not. Honor thy mother and thy father, especially with simple staples of daily life: rubber bands collected on a hand-crafted candlestick that bind me close.