Yesterday my (step)sister and I spent a few hours going through piles of stuff, throwing away old receipts, recycling sheets and sheets of paper, statements from ten and twenty years ago that the parents had dutifully saved for no other reason than habit of saving, and yes, we saved a few items, carefully.
For example: the hotel receipt and deputy sheriff business card from the time near twenty years ago when my mother left my stepfather by the side of the road and drove away. She thought he was in the back seat of the car with the dogs – whom they had stopped to water, and did not realize that he was not in the car, not for ten or fifteen miles, by which time Poppa H had walked back to Ramona and been picked up by the sheriff who gave him a lift to the hotel, or to the bar, depending on whose version of the story you listen to (he went to both places, the question is only which was the first stop – no doubt my stepbrother will correct me, as is his wont [one of Mom’s favorite words]). Perhaps that sentence is too long. Too bad.
Anyway, yesterday we were also clearing away the last boxes of stuff loosely piled on top of Mom’s old navy chest (she was in the WAVES during WW2). Then we opened it. But not right away.
I knew what the chest was, having seen it before, years ago, but I did not know what we would find inside. My sister, however (stepsister), was thrilled to see M’s name (maiden name) and rank (ensign) printed in faded lettering on top that eighty-year old trunk, and insisted I not open it until she shot a photo with her smart phone. My my how time has flown since 1942.
Then we opened it.
My mother was a weaver for many years, so I should not have been surprised to discover the chest is full of weavings and other precious materials, including a little embroidered quilt her grandmother had made for M’s baby doll, almost a hundred years ago.
Yes, my mother also saved the doll. It has been sleeping for several months now in the bedroom. I found it in a box in the closet.
But to find its little quilt was another precious moment.
My sister and I folded the quilt back into its little box and tucked it into the chest. One day soon I shall catalogue the weavings within the chest and begin to decide which piece to give to whom. That will be the hard part. Counting Mom’s children and grandchildren and nephews and nieces there are about forty of us in the family. This may sound canibal, but I want everyone to have a piece of her.