When J and I got married we chose "regular" plates because no other china pattern could live up to my expectations.
One year ago I was talking to my grandma and grandpa on the phone and complaining about my lack of china. (Don't ask me why this came up.) During that call grandma told me that she has the same set as mom. It was my great-grandmother's. Apparently my great-grandfather brought back two sets from a trip sometime in ancient history.
They told me that when the time comes and they are done using it they would box it up and send the whole set to me. I thought I'd be waiting at least another 10 years.
But the time came only 6 months later. Over the course of 2009 both grandma and grandpa became old. Not regular grandma and grandpa old. But very sick, almost died, moved into assisted living old. It was shocking. And very sad for all of us to see. Grandpa, who used to love collecting golf balls, competing in Christmas light competitions, and who could still beat me at a game of pool - can no longer drive. Has his meals made for him. Grandma sleeps almost all day every day. When I ask grandpa how he's doing he says he's happy to have grandma still with him. They lay in bed holding hands a lot.
The box arrived several months ago. Boxes. Three of them. Filled with beautiful, girly, fancy, good plates. And cups, and bowls, and smaller bowls, and smaller plates, and huge platters, and lidded bowls, and many pieces I will never know how to use.
On Thankgsiving day I went into the basement and spent an hour delicately unwrapping enough for our family dinner. I carefully washed each piece marveling at how not one was chipped or scratched. Then I served Thankgiving dinner on the good plates. For the first time.
Thank you GB & GD.