This past Christmas, and all of my girl cousins were divvying up our grandmother's silver. We counted it all and figured that each person could pick three pieces. We took turns picking, and were all satisfied; if not wondering what we were going to do with our three random pieces of silverware. There were a few left that hadn't been counted: one warped spoon and several knives whose blades had been violently ripped out as evidenced by the curled-back metal on their handles.
Most of the girls had gone, when my aunt Dee, the eldest of my grandmother's children, walked in the room.
She looked at what was left of the silverware and said, "Oh. These went through the tornado."
We all new what she meant: One day when Dee was just a baby on my grandparent's farm (cows and corn, I think), my grandmother put her down for a nap and laid down to take a rest herself. While she was sleeping, she had a dream. She dreamt that a tornado was coming and God told her "Wake up! Go get your baby." My grandmother woke up, went to the front door, and looked out across the fields. There it was: a hell-roaring tornado heading right for the her. She had just enough time to pick Dee out of her crib and hold her in her arms before the tornado hit the house. When it was all over, my grandmother found herself on top of a pile of rubble that used to be the barn, still holding Dee in her arms. They were both unhurt, except for little tiny cuts all over their bodies from all the broken glass and Dee's broken rib from my grandmother holding on to her so tightly.
The few of us that remained with the gnarly silverware immediately dove for what was left. I came away with the twisted spoon and a knife handle. They mean more to me than all the rest. Not just because they come with such a great story, but because they represent how I feel about my life: something broken and useless that became beautiful and precious once it was put in its proper context.