It is the wee hours of the night, sleep is a stranger, and a past middle age woman wanders from room to room, in a house too long silent, devoid of children, but filled to the ceiling with memories so vivid, they seem like only moments ago.
She finds herself in front of a closet, the place where keepsakes from her life are stored in
neat shelves of small boxes. Reaching up, she pulls the chain of the overhead light and scans the handwritten description of each ones contents. She seems to be having difficulty making a decision as to where she wishes to journey this night. How far back over the years will she travel?
She picks a large, round hatbox marked "Jan's Keepsakes", turns out the light, closes the door behind her and walks slowly into the kitchen, clutching the hatbox tightly to her bosom.
Once the lid was removed, she began to empty its contents, one article at a time, handling each one tenderly, as if made of the most delicate material known to mankind. A babies rattle, a pair of tiny, bronzed shoes, a small, silver spoon. She would pause for a moment or two as each item was withdrawn, as if she was reliving some instant in time, place it gently on the table and go on to the next piece of treasure. Treasure is exactly what she saw before her, more precious than the rarest of gemstones.
As she removed a smaller box from that cardboard treasure chest, she sat down, opened it, and found herself twenty-two years in the past. Her facial expressions would have told any observer what she was feeling, a knowing smile on her lips and a twinkle of excitement in her eyes as love remembered consumed her emotions completely. Tears pooled up in the corners of her eyes and made trails of sparkles upon her cheeks as she unfolded and read a handmade Mother's Day Card.
What value would these little things have to another? How much of ones self is invested in a few loving words expressed simply and honestly? A few moments of a single lifetime, a sheet of paper and a line or two of heartfelt words, whether scribbled by a child's hand in crayon, typewritten, or in pen or pencil are somehow transformed, as if by magic, into something priceless, cherished by the recipient.
When the years of human life are spent and the time remaining is short, most people will cling to that which is most valued by them, those things with which they are least willing to part. They are not seen clutching a Bankbook or bundles of money, nor will they desire jewels and such. They would have friends and family by their side, the ones they have come to love, and in their hands is a photograph, book or letter, something to gaze at and remember how it felt to know you were loved by another.
Copyright 1999, Clarence Bowles
All rights reserved. Reproductions without the author's express permission are prohibited.