"You dont have to do that," I told him.
"You guys did everything else for the party. This is what I can do to help."
I watched as he washed and rinsed in a rhythmic song, his strong hands soapy, dripping. I began to recall the story of the china, seeing in my minds eye my moms happy face as she shared the words with me so many times.
Apparently, while my Dad was stationed in Vietnam, he purchased the china in early 1967 at the DaNang Base Exchange. The story goes that a sales rep from Japan was at the BX, and Dad worked with him to select the pattern and order the china.
The order was actually shipped from Japan, and my mom received it as a surprise. She had just purchased a home for the two of them and it was a housewarming gift from the husband who couldn't be there to help her move in. "We did not have any wedding showers when we married, and he knew how much I wanted a nice set of China. I couldn't believe it had so many pieces...we would never have been able to buy it in the US," she shared today when I asked her about it once again.
A man in the midst of war bought china for his wife. What a picture! As he rinsed one of the final bowls, Doug observed that my mom was probably never far from my fathers mind.
"The house they brought me home to was the house to which that china was shipped. My mom says that is why she always wanted to give me the set - something from my first true home."
In my final recollections, Doug dried his hands on an old t-shirt he was using as a dish towel. As my words tumbled out from memory, I watched the birds scavenging for nest building materials just beyond the back deck. And somehow, by simply retelling pieces of my story, I realized that like those birds I too am building for a new season.