New refrigerator brings chance to thaw old memories

Appliance is welcome addition, but I will miss all of those magnets

March 08, 2012|Susan Reimer

My laptop was my most devoted companion during two months in a wheelchair with a broken ankle, so of course I took the opportunity to buy a new refrigerator. Online.

It was actually easier than buying a bathing suit online. I know, because I did that, too.

Anyway, I researched the most popular refrigerator styles, the best manufacturers and the best prices. I clicked on all the pictures and all the consumer reviews.

I watched for the February appliance sales, and I read about the Presidents' Weekend tax holiday, and I printed out the form for the energy-efficiency rebate. The new fridge was getting cheaper with every keystroke.

There is nothing like a new toy to brighten the days of the homebound, but my husband was kind of blue.

"I'll miss this old fridge," he said, only half kidding. "We spent a lot of late nights together."

On the day of delivery, he helped me unload the freezer and the refrigerator compartments, but I was the one who carefully removed the magnets and the pictures from the refrigerator door, every one a memory.

There was the picture my husband sketched of my son, Joseph, during a mountain bike race, years ago now. And another of Joseph as a six-year-old at his ice skating birthday party. There were the sweet notes my daughter had written to me and to her father. School pictures of my beautiful nieces and the program from the funeral of the man who had been my son's wrestling mentor.

There was a yellowed piece of newsprint announcing my win in a prestigious newspaper contest and another from a Baltimore Sun reader saying my columns were "appalling."

Also pinned to the refrigerator door were magnets announcing the schedules for our favorite sports teams, including Yale's women's basketball team from more than 10 years ago. It was printed over a picture of our god-daughter, who was the captain. She is the mother of two now.

There was one magnet that reads "If you can't be kind at least have the decency to be vague," and another that quoted the Talmud: "Every blade of grass has its angel that bends over it and whispers, 'Grow, grow.'" There were lots of magnets. Most of them were garden-themed — "A garden is never finished" — but one of them has a martini glass on it.

There was a picture of my grandson Mikey as a newborn — he is walking now — and of my husband with his mother. It is fitting. She would have been crazy in love with her great-grandson if she had lived long enough to meet him.

There was a rare photo of my son and me, and we are both smiling, rarer still. And one of my nephew Rudy in his first football uniform.

The only things that were missing from the refrigerator door were the notes my husband and I, busy working parents, used to leave for each other in the days before cellphones and text messages.

I might never have taken down those dated pictures, cracked magnets, old art work and yellowed news clippings if it hadn't been for the delivery of a new fridge. It would have seemed callous to me, as if I was discarding moments of my life.

As it is, I am trying to view the new refrigerator's gleaming white door as a chance to showcase the best moments of the years ahead and not as a slate wiped clean of events that are in my past.

The utility company has promised to pick up my old refrigerator and recycle it, and pay me $50 for the privilege.

But I would pay much more to recycle all the memories that were pinned to its door.

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