From the Braver Institute
It was a question I asked not because I wanted any sugar, I asked it more as the kind of question one asks when referring to an old friend they haven’t seen in years. Ma Braver told me that it should be up in the cupboard.
The sugar bowl was one of those things that had always been there— like my dining room table, which served as my parent’s dining room table before I was born up until ten years ago or so. It is not “a” table, it is “the” table. Everyone in my family knows what table is being spoken of when “the” table is mentioned. Everyone in my family knows what “the” sugar bowl is. In fact “the” sugar bowl could frequently be found sitting on “the” table.
I went to the cupboard to look for the sugar bowl. It seemed a little ridiculous that it would be there, since the last time it had really been needed was when my younger sister Badger Annie and I were kids.
The sugar bowl was huge, I seem to recall it being roughly the size of a large coffee can. It was made of pressed glass with a floral pattern, and it had two looping handles on the sides of it. It had no top. It seems to me that it would hold most of a five pound bag of sugar, if memory serves me right. Thinking about it now, it was more like a canister without a lid. We would shovel spoonful after spoonful of sugar onto our cereal in the mornings. That may explain some of my behavior problems growing up, but that’s another story entirely.
Since those sugar high days of childhood my dad had developed diabetes, and us kids had long ago moved out of the house. There was little need for sugar in the home of my parents, let alone a bowl that size to keep it in.
“It’s not here.” I said. Ma Braver was surprised that it wasn’t. I then proceeded to look through all of the cupboards with no success in locating it. I searched the whole house. This was becoming something of an obsession. The world was not right. Something was amiss, and it needed to be corrected. I even looked through the garage. Nothing.
I called all of my siblings and none had any clue where the sugar bowl was, and all expressed some shock and surprise to hear that it was missing. We all agreed that we would have remembered it if it had been broken.
The sugar bowl is something that my mother remembers being a fixture at her Grandma Olson’s house. It wasn’t a sugar bowl back then, it was a spoon bowl. It was kept on the kitchen table and all of the spoons were stored in it instead of storing them in a drawer.
The sugar bowl existed in memories that transcend generations, and now it was missing. Vanished without a trace.
That was years ago. The disappearance of the sugar bowl has been a family mystery since then. Every now and then it would come up in conversation and a new search for it would ensue, kind of like how a new clue in a cold-case file will open up the investigation again, only to lead us right back to where we started.
A few weeks ago I brought Ma Braver to Ohio to spend a week with my aunt. I was going to spend part of the week with the Badger, and then I had business in Lansing to attend to. After I was done with that it was just a short trip into Ohio to retrieve mom. The plan was that I would also spend the night at my aunt’s.
While there we had plenty of time to talk about a wide variety of things, and oddly enough the sugar bowl came up again. It was not a complete surprise that the sugar bowl became the topic of discussion, since my aunt remembered the bowl very well too, but it was a bit of a surprise as to how it came up.
While sitting in my aunt’s living room I was looking at the very nice array of items on the fullwall set of shelves she had there. My mother asked me if I noticed anything familiar on the shelves. I said no. My aunt then said “At the top, in the center.”
Mystery solved. It was much smaller than I remembered.
The sugar bowl is now reunited with the table. It is full of spoons.
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Waye Braver can be contacted on Facebook or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.