Finial Moment

Friends and I enjoyed brunch the other day. Afterwards, I suggested we stop by the local antique store to see what was new…

No one got the joke.

Still laughing at myself, because it never takes much, I held the door for the others as we entered and went our separate ways down cluttered and dusty aisles.

We hadn’t been there long when I saw, tucked between Mason jars and wicker baskets, an old Thanksgiving decoration like one Mama used when I was a kid. It was a turkey with a cardboard head but the rest of it was the honeycomb style that opened and latched onto itself, giving the turkey a big round body. Its cardboard head was bent and its big round body didn’t latch anymore, but I held it up to look at it and wondered whose it used to be, where they might have placed it, and how many kids had ever touched it or crunched it.

“You want that thing?” one friend asked.

“No, I’m just having a finial moment.” I responded.

“Ok…” my friend said. He waited for an explanation.

For years and years, the same floor lamp stood in the same corner of the den at home. It was always positioned at one end of the couch regardless of how the room was arranged. Mama rarely rearranged, so the lamp stood in the same spot forever it seemed. The lamp sported three light bulbs and was about six feet tall counting the huge beige shade. As a kid I thought it was “fancy” because as you turned the switch you could opt for one, two, or all three bulbs to be on. Wow! Poking up above the huge beige shade was a tarnished bronze finial about an inch long.

Under that lamp at the end of the couch Mama sometimes worked crossword puzzles or sewed loose buttons. Daddy would temporarily leave his recliner to sit under the extra light to squint at a roadmap or at the faded date on an old coin. My three sisters and I took turns sitting under that lamp to do homework, color, or play games.

We laughed, argued, and watched television under that lamp. Daddy told stories about his workdays and Mama made sure he was caught up on neighborhood happenings, all under the lamp. That lamp saw holidays and birthdays and every day as soon as it was dark outside it was turned on. It was the last light to go out at night. That same lamp had been there forever and would be there forever. Such a thing couldn’t be replaced.

One day Mama replaced it.

I came home after school to see the old lamp standing beside the trash can. The shade itself, admittedly less beige and torn in two spots, had been smashed unceremoniously into the trash can. Poking up above the less beige lampshade was the tarnished bronze finial. I pulled at the finial and realized it could be unscrewed from the shade. I’d gotten it almost off when Mama walked by on her way to the clothesline.

“You want that thing?” she asked as she adjusted the laundry basket on her hip.

“Yep.”  I said. I removed the finial and kept it.

That was almost forty years ago and I still have it.

I don’t know how many times over the years I’ve come across that finial, but each time, I’ve held it and remembered countless days and nights at home as a kid. That little finial sat in the same room with me and my family as we celebrated happy times, cried over sad times, or did absolutely nothing but be with each other one regular old evening after another.

Photographs are wonderful, but to hold an object in your hand that has the power to bring back so many memories is a gift. We should accept those when they’re given.

I have several boxes full of items like the finial. Sometimes I go to the boxes just to have a finial moment with one object or another.

When I hold a tiny porcelain giraffe I think about Nannie in her chair by the window. She’s crocheting and smiling because someone’s walking up the path under the walnut tree coming for a visit. Her rolls are almost ready in the oven and my aunt Dessie will be over later to fix her hair for church tomorrow. Nannie had a hundred houseplants and for years the tiny porcelain giraffe stood in the dirt under her Christmas cactus. When she gave me the plant I got the giraffe. The Christmas cactus died long ago, but I kept the tiny giraffe and when I look at it I see the plant blooming on Nannie’s table.

Three little magnets I keep in the box remind me of Granddaddy. When I was a kid he used those magnets to show me “magic”. He’d put one magnet on the dining room table and ask it to spin, which it did wildly for him but not for me! I never thought to look for him holding the other two magnets in his hand under the table, close enough to make the third one react on the tabletop. He could make two magnets stick together or make them push apart, all at his command. It was magic to me. Even when I was old enough to know how he did it, I played along. The satisfied grin he gave after each performance was enough to keep me playing dumb forever. One day he called me over to the swing where he sat chewing tobacco. He “taught” me the trick, swore me to secrecy, and gave me the three little magnets.

The jagged little puppy tooth I keep makes me smile. The collie we had growing up was a good friend to us all and I still miss her, my first dog as a kid. We got Mitzi as a puppy and for thirteen years she watched me and my sisters grow up. She walked Mama and Daddy back and forth to the garden and she was gentle towards the many smaller animals that came and went through our house during her time. As a puppy, she lost that tooth in the kitchen one day and before Mama could sweep it up I took it to my room. I remember when we brought Mitzi home and I remember when we buried her. A thousand fun times are recalled when I look at the little tooth that once gnawed my hand while a tiny tail wagged.

My boxes are full of items that spark “finial moments” for me. The hinge from a gate by the barn, a feather from a quail I hatched in an incubator, a pocket knife, and a simple brown rock are just some of the items. All hold stories and images stronger for me than any photograph could trigger. I remembered these things as I talked in the antique store that day.

My friend listened to me go on as I stood there with the old Thanksgiving decoration in my hand. Several times his eyes glazed over, boredom I’d assumed, so I cut my story short. As it turned out he wasn’t bored, he was remembering…

I leaned over to put the broken turkey decoration back on the shelf as I wrapped up my story but before I could stick it back between the Mason jars and the wicker baskets my friend took it from my hand.

“You want that thing?” I asked

“Finial moment.” he said, and headed to the cashier.

Stuart M. Perkins

286 Comments

Filed under Family

286 responses to “Finial Moment

  1. This is beautiful! I love treasures from the past that remind me of my childhood, as well.

  2. Your words bring your finial moments to life in my mind, Stuart. Thanks for sharing your warm treasures.

  3. Stuart, This is a WONDERFUL essay. Very heart moving. Outstanding. Have you submitted this essay to any magazines? This is a fantastic essay!!!!!!

  4. What a delightful amble down memory lane….. 😉

  5. Kristi Bridges

    I totally enjoyed this visit back to the nights under the lamp–although the one at my Grandma’s house was glass with a painted scene on it. None of us took it home, because it matches nobody’s decor, but i have my dad’s lunch-money wallet and an old “neckin’ handle” from the steering wheel of a car my Grandpa had. Thank you for noticing my blog–I’m glad I’ve discovered you!

  6. I am so glad I’ve found your blog. I feel like I’ve found a treasure trove of words. Thank you for sharing your Finial Moment!

  7. May I have your permission to narrate this lovely essay on my YouTube channel? Your credits would be given at the beginning. If possible, I thank you. If not, I thank you for this lovely writing 🙂

  8. You’re a great storytelller! Thanks for the follow!

  9. What a fantastic way to describe such a personal moment. I think I might need to hit the attic and bring down my box of finials.

  10. Phenomenally visual story telling. I feel as though I’m a part of each paragraph. Thank you for sharing your gift. 🌟😊

  11. I really enjoy your blog!
    I have nominated you for the WordPress family Award for all you have meant to me and other bloggers.
    If you don’t accept awards, I understand. I just wanted you to know you are appreciated.
    God’s Blessings!

  12. itsmyhusbandandme

    I took the old bras knocker my parents were throwing away when they replaced their front door a few years ago. I didn’t like to think all the people who ever knocked would be forgotten. Though I’m not sure it’s in the same league as your lamp. By the way – thanks for the “like” and the following. I’ll do “like” wise.

    Jean-Paul

  13. My father is very old and very ill. He is likely in his last days. After reading your post, there are things that started to come to mind. I actually began to get a bit emotional as I read about your memories. As I’ve gotten older, and my memory bucket has grown, I began to think about the way our lives come to be what they are.
    People always repeat that old saying “You are what you eat.” That may be somewhat true. But, I prefer to think that “We are what we remember.” By sharing your memories in this post, I have an idea of who you are. Well done, Stuart.

  14. That tactile sensation is what’s missing in our online world. I’m chided for still buying books made of paper instead of e-books, but as you so eloquently put it, grabbing onto some things can mean everything.

  15. Beautiful story. Have a box very similar and now I am looking forward to having a finial moment or two, thanks to you.

  16. Perfect, I have a few items that hold big memories for me as well!

  17. wife of day trader

    Very nice. My middle of the night walk down memory lane.

  18. willcurtis2001

    Haha that ‘see what’s new’ joke was too good! Thanks for following my blog StoryShucker!!

  19. Great story! Thanks for sharing! I think so many of us, have these thoughts and don’t share them, dismissing them as just a fleeting thought. I love that you shared it and didn’t just dismiss it! 🙂

  20. I loved every word. I’ve been there. I understand those tiny little gifts that bring back memories. Thanks for sharing your finial moments.

    Shalom, Betty

  21. Hey Stuart, I popped in to see what you’ve been up to (thanks for the like!) but I didn’t find anything new. What’s up!?

  22. Reblogged this on Because I Said So and commented:
    A beautiful memory from fellow blogger Stuart M. Perkins for this family-oriented holiday week

  23. Loved this, Stuart. Lots of truth in it. I loved the description of the woman. I could picture her as if I knew her. We can always find something to be thankful for if only we search for it. Thanks for the smile.

  24. Hey I really like that term “finial moment” because straight away, even without having finished reading the story, I could tell it would be about the top issues, the most important memories. And then it reminds me of my own lamp, which oversaw hundreds of items knitted, sewn, mended before it gave up… Thank you for the “LIKE” on my blogpost, too!

  25. O but I like this tale! There are so many ‘finial moments’ in our lives…pure gold! It brakes my heart when I see the new generation mesmerized by the tinsels in TV nowadays. Thanks for your visit. Later! 🙂

  26. rudyhou

    this is beautiful. i rarely have a ‘finial’ moment, but you’re right. sometimes an object able to bring out forgotten memory and feeling, in a way no photograph can.

  27. Oh it’s an awesome blog. I could relate to it so well as even I have a habit of treasuring small things that have a lot of emotions attached, and while reading your blog those items swiftly ran into my mind. Your blogs are so visually strong, they take me to places and memories galore.

    P.S. Keeping the tooth of Mitzi was kinda sweet. 🙂

  28. Great post. Such priceless memories. My mom had one of those Turkeys as well. I had forgotten …it was a part of our Thanksgiving table center piece for years.

  29. bebavanob

    I am not sure how many times a week I tend to look at things, or homes wondering about their history and all the things they must have seen…. if only they could… secretly I think they can 😉

  30. What a beautiful post! I haven’t read something so wonderful in a long time! Thank you 🙂

  31. Hi there. I love this post. I am a collector myself- of little bits of meaning and remembrance. You are right. There is something about the feel of something in the hand- the tactile sense combining with a memory. Have you heard of a play called The Object Lesson? You would love it.

    Thanks for sharing. (And for following my blog.)

  32. Hi Stuart,
    Thank you for sharing such precious moments with us. I love the way you have presented these memories. Truly you are a “story shucker” as mentioned in your About page. I’m sure if I had embarked on a similar exercise it would have made very dry reading.
    Popped by because you’ve followed my blog, for which I wanted to express my appreciation.

  33. Wow, loved your story way of making me envision how your childhood was also while thinking of how I love those finial moments also. I now have them with my children since they’re all grown adults and have been out of the house for quite a few years now. This time of year, for me, is special when I unpack Christmas ornaments. So many memories of children’s laughter, etc. Loved reading your story, and you write great. The end was wonderful, make me chuckle. 🙂
    Also, thanks for the follow on my blog. 😉

  34. This is g.old! I’ve my own box full of ‘finial moments’, so I find this post rather intriguing. 😀

  35. I Love Your Site. Thanks for checking out my site on http://www.channelofvirtue.wordpress.com

  36. Hello from sunny Singapore! Lovely read at the start of the day! Very inspiring… I shall stop griping about what I don’t have and be thankful for what I have 🙂

  37. You write beautifully. Loved it.

  38. I hear you.. It’s those small things that matter the most.. 🙂

  39. Wonderful story! Even though I don’t consider myself a materialistic person, sometimes things really do matter. They can remind us of those treasured memories that we might otherwise forget. I find that gifts from my friends and family hold significant meaning for me. Whenever someone gives me something, I always think of them when I wear or use it.

  40. I really enjoy your writing. Years ago on radio station wor there was a storyteller named gene shepherd. His stories were terrific and so are yours
    All the best
    Moshe

  41. I actually had to look up finial (love new words!)…interesting what the definition was and how you used it here. Great story!! That’s what makes a great writer.

  42. hL

    I really enjoyed reading this.. Made my day a little brighter

  43. This is a lovely story. The little treasures we acquire along the way can bring back a thousand precious memories.

  44. Reblogged this on kirstwrites and commented:
    This is a lovely blog about those treasured possessions which bring back so many happy memories.

  45. What a fabulous story! It brought back many finial moments for me!
    😉

  46. SJ

    I saw the title and thought, “Is it *really* a finial or is it a misspelling, in which case the post will be awful.” Loved the post, love the idea of a finial moment. My moment was an old ladderback chair my mom wanted to get rid of (it wasn’t comfortable) but I kept in my room for years.

  47. Years ago I lived in an old cottage in the valleys of South Wales and I collected all the finials I could from a second hand shop at the top of a steep hill. Every day I pushed my new baby up the hill and rooted and and played in the old shop with the woman chatting away to my baby. It kept me sane. It cost me pennies. Yesterday I returned to my old cottage for the first time in 50 years and the saddest thing was to see the old shop closed and desolate in the sweeping rain. It saddened me and yet it was good to revisit. I still have some of those ‘finials’ with me in my memory drawer.

  48. Pingback: Too many finials? | kirstwrites

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