Mama, my maternal grandmother, gave them to me.
One afternoon, while we were visiting her up at the old farmhouse, she and my mother fell to discussing a woman they knew. I was just at the age -- 11 or 12 -- when adult conversations were starting to intrigue me, so I listened in. Besides, I knew the woman they were talking about and liked her. Mama did not, however, and made that colorfully clear. I protested.
“You hush up!” Mama snapped. “This doesn’t concern you.”
She was right, of course -- it didn’t -- but the words jarred me. She had never yelled at me before. I mean, this was Mama whom I played gin rummy with and who told me all sorts of bobbeh-mysehs (literally “grandmother’s stories”) about her childhood. Who called me “mommeleh” (“little mother”) and who had gotten my beloved cat, Alexander, for me when my dad had been in the hospital. Still smarting from her rebuke, I went home without giving her my usual good-bye kiss and hug.
The following Sunday, Mama came to our house for dinner. She handed me a shoe box. In it were two white rabbits she had made in her ceramics class. She never said a word about our argument, and we never had another one in all the years that were left to her.
Other knickknacks have come and gone, but those rabbits still sit on the bookcase in my office. And they’ll keep sitting there because I’ll keep gluing their ears back on as long as there’s something to glue them back onto. You see, they’re reminders not only of Mama’s love but also of some simple truths that I am only beginning to grasp...truths that she understood as instinctively as she did the flowers in her garden. That there are many different ways of saying you’re sorry. And that some things, like my china rabbits, are worth fixing, no matter what.