Sunday, May 16, 2010

Rosalyn Hirsch's "Bittersweet"

Ms. Hirsch describes her story as telling of a family’s transition from uneducated Italian immigrants to educated Americans. The stars of her story are a typewriter and a set of fifty books—the "Harvard Classics"—sold to her father by a door-to-door salesman. After sixty years of marriage, she and her husband decided to downsize and the typewriter and books are things she is giving away.

The typewriter connects her to her mother, who took a job when her father was ill. The Harvard Classics connect her to her father, who was told by the salesman that to read all of the books was to receive the equivalent of a liberal arts college degree. Bittersweet refers to her feelings about parting with these artifacts.

Ms. Hirsch’s story made me think about what artifacts I have held on to that hold special significance to me. If I could only have two items in my home right now, what items would I choose? Okay, honestly, right now, one of those items would probably be a big piece of chocolate crème cake from the container sitting on top of the microwave.

After I ate the cake, here are two things that I might choose:

The first was made for me by my sister, Rachel. The second was made by my mom, and on the back it says "To My Special Honey, With Love, Sharon."

To love and know that you are loved…in the end, I don’t know if there is anything more important than that. Reading between the lines of Ms. Hirsch’s story, the overwhelming sense that I’m left with is how essential love giving it away, it always comes back to you. Unlike the typewriter, or the Harvard Classics, which seem like they'd get pretty heavy after a little while, we all carry within us an infinite ability to love. And to be married to a person for sixty years? Crazy.

In a good way.

I think.

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