Well, at least it marches, ready or not, in the little room where my husband kept his marbles, planes and armies of toy soldiers and knights. When he left this world, he also left this entire room of collectible ‘stuff’ behind – and I have no earthly idea what to do with it! Many painstaking hours (and dollars) were spent collecting, planning, gluing and building this little world into a mini- museum. We should have charged admission.
My kid-at-heart husband collected marbles, no, not just the simple cat-eye ones, although he had a hefty bowl of them. His taste ran to those hand-blown, kaleidescope of color ones that preened on little stands in glass cases. Looking at these sparkling orbs one day, I realized why gradually my happy place of Cape Cod grew on him. I remember how his eyes lit up when we went to the Sandwich Glass Factory and his mouse-eating grin as he left each time, marble in tow.
Planes were part of my man’s collecting gene, and, true to his discriminating (expensive) taste, not to those plastic jobs put together with duco cement. These little flying machines were authentic scale models of WWI planes, including the infamous Red Baron. They have all since flown to another space — but that’s another blog post.
The tiny little soldiers and knights? They’re a different story. Sitting these long months as a sad, dusty reminder that their toyland commander was no longer in residence. I knew I needed to give them another home – but where? Just looking at their forlorn, forgotten little scenes, is painful because all I can remember is the big handsome kid sitting there surveying his subjects.
In the attic, my husband stored moving-size boxes — of boxes. “Cool” I thought, “I’ll just match the boxes to the little critters and we’ll go from there”. But no…is anything that simple? Sure these are the original boxes from the collections, but there’s no way to know which of the myriad armies of knights and soldiers go where. In their infinite wisdom, the manufacturers thought collectors would know where they go by osmosis. Uh, no. I had to pull out something more 21st century – Google.
These last weeks you would have found me in odd hours dismantling dioramas, and slogging through this strange collection of little people. I’ve dragged bag after bag filled with grasses, little bent trees, rock ponds on foam core battlefields to the curb. Mostly, though, I’ve been desperately searching for the right box for each soldier and knight – and in the right home (not mine!) when I do. Unfortunately, it seems few people collect these tiny armies anymore. Lucky me.
The ‘little room’ these days is sort of a metaphor for life as a newbie widow. Memories lie scattered, some boxed; some loose and lost. Once brave and colorful this was a happy room of dreams where a man could still be a kid not just a cancer victim.
At moments, I still see him sitting there, now in the tiny dismantled room unable to ponder his next battlefield scene. And I can’t help but wonder if my husband was behind the shelf that suddenly tipped over with a crash the afternoon when the last diorama was taken down. But what was the message? At first, I was sure he was TOTALLY ticked, seeing the now nearly naked space he spent so many happy moments in. Yet, realizing how the crash sent some of his army to the miniature ER with decapitations and arms lost, I wonder if he, instead, was telling me to let it go. I sure would like to believe the latter.
The toy castles are gone; and my castle is minus the handsome Knight. But today I sit, like the hopeful little painted survivors of the shelving fall, patched and limping toward a new day.
LOVE marches on.