My parents collected beautiful, delicate pottery from Southeast Asia. Since these pieces were arranged around the house just out of reach of running children and frisky dogs, it was not until I was a teenager that I noticed a vase that did not fit with the rest of the collection.
The vase had once been a fine antique with a cream glaze and blue Japanese design, but now it was damaged. It stood amid the finer pieces, a mass of cracks, crudely glued together with what was obviously the wrong type of adhesive—everywhere the 20 or so pieces met one another, glue had bubbled out yellow as it dried, creating the effect of scabrous scars.
“Why don’t you get rid of that one?” I asked my mother.
“Never,” she replied. “It’s the most valuable piece of pottery we have in this house.” Then she told me the story behind the cracked vase.