Sunday, August 14, 2011
You can clutch the past so tightly to your chest that it leaves your arms too full to embrace the present. ~ Jan Glidewell
Remember how I couldn't find my jewelry box? It's been found, along with a little wooden box that is a keepsake of my mother's. My daughter stumbled across them as she was sorting thru a storage bin after moving into her new apartment. It was labeled "Harry Potter". I wouldn't touch a "Harry Potter" book with a 10-foot pole. No wonder I never looked in there. But it had been stored out in the garage with all my daughter's other storage bins so I'm not surprised they didn't show up until now.
But they did show up...and I'm thankful for that.
I told Dear Hubby yesterday I've never been one to hold on to material things with a tight fist. I've never been one to hold on to anything -- or any one -- with a tight grip. Does it come from my upbringing, having parents who grew up and were deeply affected by the Great Depression? I don't know, but as people and things have come and gone thru my life I've been able to let them go without many regrets. I don't like regrets. I don't like guilt feelings and sadness. So I learned a long time ago to hold on just tight enough. Tight enough to love with all my heart but loose enough not to strangle or smother. Just ask my kids.
My jewelry box doesn't have anything much in it. A thief would open it up and ask himself, "Why on earth did this lady hold on to that thing?" with scorn. He'd probably dump it all in the trash, fling it across the room with disgust. It holds our wedding rings. I don't think we paid $200 for both of them back in 1974. My great-grandmother's diamond ring might be something a thief would pocket, but even it isn't very ostentatious. I have a brass lapel pin of my mother's of a jaunty sailor boy, the shine long gone. A little charm bracelet a beloved family friend gave to me when I was a very young girl...it fit a 4-year-old wrist of mine once upon a time. There are a few other items. Nothing worth mentioning, really. But this old, cheap battered jewelry box once belonged to my paternal grandmother. Someone who died so early in my lifetime that I have no conscious memory of her. Every time I think of her and look at that box, I feel warm and loved. Therein lies its worth for me. It's priceless. Same thing with the little wooden box of my mother's.
When we left Portland, as we searched thru and purged and packed up 28 years of life lived in our old house there, we gave away and tossed away a lot of stuff. Things I'd held on to forever, like a cradle and a doll bed and chest my grandfathers had made for me. My mother's old hope chest that had grown so musty being stored in the basement for years, scratched and battered when it had been stored in the attic at her old house. Things I knew I'd never have any use for or room to store here in our new house. One lesson I have learned in life is it isn't the object that holds the memories...it's me who stores the memory in my heart. I could have lugged all these old things 2400 miles across the country with me. But I'd rather just think about them and the memories that come back to me. I'm learning, especially as we went thru our possessions in Oregon, that much of what I'd held on to wasn't anything my children wanted anyway. They were happy with a few cherished Christmas ornaments. Why is it we women think we know what everyone wants? Sometimes it's a shock to find how little we really do know.