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The Hope Chest

 © Rose The phone rang. “Hi Mom I’m coning over to pick up Grandma’s hope chest in about an hour. Are you sure you don’t mind me taking it?

“I’m sure. I’ve only used it for a plant stand. I think you could put it to better use.”

The big brown box sat unopened for years. I could never bring myself to open it up. I’m not sure why maybe the memories would be to tender, to reminiscent, or too precious.

When my daughter arrived I expected she would just haul it away. “Maybe you want something that’s inside of it.”

“No I don’t think so just take everything.”

She unlatched the tarnished golden clasp and the scent of cedar wafted up into the air. We both peered down into it. Like pirates checking over their bounty we dug into the chest. On top were hand-stitched linens embroidered by my mother’s mother. I ran my fingers across the tightly woven stitches thinking to myself I could never use these. I would be horrified if they got stained.

Digging beyond the linens I came across a rose printed hanker chief with scalloped edges. I had to sit down. I couldn’t believe it was in there. It was the very same hanker chief that that my mother would wrap a few dollars and a short grocery list for me to take to the deli on the corner every afternoon. The list was almost always the same a quart of milk, a quarter pound of bologna and a quarter pound of cheese. I told my daughter about the memory and stuffed the hanker chief in my pocket. She nodded and told me that was the same one that Grandma gave to her to do the same thing when she spent her summers with her as a young girl. We smiled at each other. It was another memory we shared that bonded us together.

A little further down pass the towels and washcloths we came across a baggy full of plastic white pop beads. A smile came to my face. I remember my mother telling me she bought those to wear instead of her pearls when I was baby because I was always pulling on her necklaces. I snapped the beads together and put them around my neck. Next to the beads was a small red box. Inside I found the silver broach with glass diamonds I bought for her birthday at the school fair. I remembered I had skipped buying ice cream at lunch for two weeks to buy her something. With my ten nickels I thought I bought her a very fancy present. The way she cared for it for so long maybe she thought so too. I stuffed the broach in my other pocket.

At the bottom were sheets and pillowcases. One pillowcase in particular caught my eye. It was the one with the dancing lavender clocks around the edges. The smiling faces on the clocks were faded and barely visible. I took it out and held it to my face. This was my pillowcase. The one that got me through fevers, restless nights and earlier mornings. I held it on my lap.

Now that the contents were thoroughly explored it was time for it to leave. I watched it go without regret. I could almost feel my mother standing beside me smiling. She was only 4’7” but had a six-foot heart that was filled love and generosity. She would be happy that Jessie had her hope chest and would pass down the memories of our Polish heritage to her own daughter one day. All the mementoes I wanted were stuffed in my pockets and the memories kept preserved forever within me.

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Upload Date: 31/12/1969

Downloads: 1756

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