Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Unni and the Melmac plate

In October 2001 I attended the funeral of my older brother. After the funeral I joined family and friends at his home for food, chat and commiseration.
The wife of my brother's oldest friend, a Norwegian girl named Unni, related a reminiscence about meeting my brother for the first time.
Newly arrived from Norway in 1958, and newly married besides, Unni was brought to my brother's house by her husband, John, to be introduced to his best friend.
She told about her nervousness meeting new people, also remarking that, in Norway, one didn't go to someone's house uninvited so she was uncomfortable with that feeling too.
Imagine, she said, how I felt when we were asked to stay for dinner and John accepted. This is NEVER, I mean NEVER, done in Norway. Too impolite. Not proper.
Sitting at the table while it was being set, she remarked upon the dinnerware being placed in front of her. It was Melmac, a plastic dinnerware that was popular in the fifties. I gathered she found it hard to believe that it was used for dining.
My brother, never a shrinking violet, began to expound upon the virtues of Melmac, its low cost, its durability, its ease of cleaning, etc. "Besides all that", my brother said, "it's unbreakable." And saying that, he picked up a dinner plate and tossed it on the tiled kitchen floor to prove his point, only to see the plate shatter in pieces.
Everyone broke into laughter. Including Unni. She ended the story by saying she had felt welcome there ever since that day.
Unni died last Friday, June 5.
I want to retell her story here as a gesture, a blow against the End, the diminishment of Time. And as a thank you for giving another memory of my brother to me.


  1. Lincoln:
    I remember reading this last year after we lost mom...It is a memory that mom always enjoyed sharing. It is so difficult to accept that, with the exception of my dad, all of them are gone...Mom, Uncle Ros, Mary Ann. But no one can take away the memories of the friendship and, most of all, the LAUGHTER that always echoed through the house (and frequently the neighborhood as well) when our families were together. Thank you for sharing this!

  2. Hi, Lisa: Yes, the losses keep mounting up. Your uncles, my brother Alan. Now I am the last of my immediate family as I believe your father is of his.
    You are so right mentioning laughter because
    Ros and John loved to laugh, loudly and often.
    They seemed to have a party where ever they were.
    Thanks for your comment. I read this post once a year myself. I can easily recall your mother's soft warm voice as she told the story.
    Take care.