Bringing Back Memories

I lifted the top of my mother’s cedar chest, prepared to toss out many of the odd assortment of things she’d saved for over sixty years of marriage.

The first layer yielded artwork, and odds and ends of small items our son and daughter had supplied. I picked through them—some for keeping, others to discard.

The next layer held a crocheted afghan that spent years on the sofa until the holes became impossible to repair. As soon as one hole was mended the old yarns broke open in another place. I remembered the crocheted, multi-colored squares with absolutely no pattern. The squares were made with whatever yarn that had been left over from other projects. I laid it aside. Maybe.

Below that were newspaper clippings from local papers—many of them obituaries. I didn’t recognize most of the names. I’d not lived in Afton during any of the thirty plus years my parents had spent there. From the scraps of paper I found aunts, uncles, cousins, and close friends from my farm days. I sorted out those few I knew and the rest went to the discard pile.

At the bottom of the chest, carefully folded was my mother’s wedding dress, a light gray dress which had been the height of fashion in 1925.

Next to it was a box. I lifted its cover to reveal my red velvet dress with its white lace collar. The touch of the soft fabric sent me back to fifth grade and the Christmas play our one-room school house performed in our country church.

I had the starring role as the doll in The Christmas Doll, partly because I was so short. I lifted it out fingered the collar. I held it up. The dress was a child-sized six. My mother had to shorten the dress for me. Later she let is down when I was in seventh grade. This perfect dress had been a gift from my paternal grandfather. He probably couldn’t afford it, but had insisted he wanted me to have it.

My memory of my grandfather is of a tall man with a shock of perfectly white hair. As a little child, he’d been my playmate. He played silly games with lilac leaves, listened attentively to my stories, taught me to play dominoes, which made adding fun. Whether he recognized the educational value at the time, I don’t know. When I wanted to play pinochle, he taught me.

This box went into my pile of keepers.

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