ValueSpeak
A Weekly Column
By Joseph Walker

ANITA’S LLADRÓ

My wife Anita has been praying for patience lately.

Bad idea.

You pray for patience, you run the risk of being blessed with an opportunity to be patient.

And that opportunity came last night, with a crash.

Anita isn’t much on accumulating “things.”  For one thing, it isn’t in her nature.  She has always been more interested in people than things.  For another, we’ve never been able to afford niceties.  The “things” we’ve had have been utilitarian, but not especially exciting to own.

Except for one thing: Anita’s Lladró.

If you’re familiar with the hand-made figurines, you know how beautiful and . . . well, expensive they are.  Anita has always admired them, as much for the fact that they are Spanish – as she is – as for their elegant lines and colors.  For many years she would just look longingly at them when she saw them on display.  But when the opportunity came for her to go with her parents to her ancestral homeland in Spain, she worked and scrimped and saved to put together some extra spending money just in case they had a chance to go to the Lladró factory there.

I’ll never forget the look on her face when she unpacked her Lladró figurine after she returned home from Spain.  With a wondrous mix of bliss and awe, she carefully pulled the delicate figurine from the sturdy box in which it was packed and tenderly held it up for all to see.  We oohed and ahhed at the lovely representation of a mother wrapping a warm towel around her shivering daughter after a bath, and we wondered where this treasure would be displayed.

“Are you kidding?” Anita asked.  “It’s going to stay right here in the box!”

And that’s right where Anita’s Lladró stayed – for a while.  But then we moved, and our youngest child, Jon, got big enough to keep his curious-but-clumsy little hands to himself, and Anita decided to put the Lladró out.  We purchased a nice little table especially for this purpose, and we put it right by our front door, where for nearly 10 years it has remained as an object of beauty, a reminder of heritage and an homage to diligence and hard work.

Until last night.

Now, I should point out that we understood the risks of leaving Anita’s Lladró on that table in the hallway.  Our eventual plan was to purchase a curio cabinet, where it would be less vulnerable to the vicissitudes of flailing teenage arms and legs.  More recently, we’ve wondered about putting it away when our adorable-but-sometimes-anarchistic granddaughters visit.  But the girls are so sweet, and they generally understand “no,” and their parents supervise them well, so . . . we left it out – a decision Anita regretted as soon as she heard the crash last night.

You would have been impressed with how patiently Anita handled the crisis.  Clearly her prayer for patience was answered.  She was calm, without a tear in her eye, and she responded with sincere love and affection to every “Sowwy, Gammy” from 23-month-old Samantha.

“It’s OK, sweetheart,” Anita said.

“No, it isn’t,” said Amy, our eldest daughter and Sam’s Mommy, who understood all that the Lladró meant to Anita and who seemed to feel worse about its demise than her mother did.

“It’s just a thing,” Anita said.  “It can be replaced.  In fact, your father is going to take me to Spain next year so we can get another one.”

“I am?” I gulped.  I knew her parents were planning a return visit, but I thought I had successfully avoided making a commitment to the trip, citing poverty and claustrophobia.

“Oh, yes,” she said, still clutching a dustpan full of Lladró fragments.  “You are.”

Funny, but I don’t remember praying for patience.

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--- © Joseph Walker

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"How Can You Mend a Broken Spleen? Home Remedies for an Ailing World." It is available on-line through www.Amazon.com.