Fika (Fee-ka) is a Swedish word describing a mid-morning or mid-afternoon break in the day. It’s also a concept, a state of mind, an attitude. For more on fika, read my introduction here. Grab a cuppa and something sweet and delicious. Even better – do it with someone else. Enjoy the story. Let it be the beginning of a conversation – with someone else, or yourself. Head over to my website and leave a comment if you want to. Enjoy.
“Having what you have” – by Naomi Rachel Remen
The middle drawer of my mother’s dresser was filled with silk stockings, dozens of pairs in many exquisite colours, each wrapped in its original package from the store. They had never been worn. I used to love to pull a chair up to the open drawer and touch them, counting the packages and admiring the beautiful colours. Once I asked my mother why she never wore them. She told me that they were too good to wear, if she wore them they would get torn or otherwise damaged and they could not be replaced. It was wartime and all the silk in the United States had been diverted into making parachutes. She was saving them, she said, for a special time.
Each year in August we would go away to a little rented cottage on Long Island to escape the hottest part of the summer, leaving our apartment in Manhattan empty. One year when we came home we found that the apartment had been burglarized and ransacked. I remember walking through the rooms behind my parents, shocked to find many of our family’s things missing and others broken and thrown all over the floor. But the most shocking thing was in the bedroom. My mother’s dresser drawers hung open. The middle one was completely empty.
This was my first serious lesson about loss. At the time, I was always being scolded by my teachers for not taking better care of my things. But my mother had taken very good care of her stockings. She had never even used them. I puzzled about this for a long time.
This happening had a profound effect on us all. My father bought more locks for our doors, and every place we lived afterward had at least three locks on every outside door. But this did not seem to answer my questions. Eventually, I began to use everything I owned.
An elderly patient who had outlived his entire family once told me that all we get to keep are our memories. Perhaps the only way we get to keep anything may be to use it up. More than 50 years later, I still think about those stockings with regret. Perhaps we are all given many more blessings than we receive.
This story is published in My Grandfather’s Blessings: Stories of Strength, Refuge and Belonging by Rachel Naomi Remen. pp39-40. (Riverhead, 2000)
What does “taking care” of your things look like?
What blessing(s) have been given to you that you have not yet received?
Have a good weekend.
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