Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Unwrapping a Lifetime

When I opened the box, I smelled it.

It was the scent of an elderly woman's home, of furniture polish and moth balls, of rose and lavendar, and of freshly ironed linens. Doilies and hand-embroidered dresser scarves. Sepia toned family photos. China. And memories.

The contents of the box were wrapped in packer's paper and the dust that had settled was soon sprinkled in the air as I unwrapped each plate.

Most of the dishes were probably rarely used. Kept safely on shelves in a cabinet, the plates were often dusted. I could picture her over the years, taking the plates one by one, carefully cleaning them, then gingerly putting them back in their place.

Wheat dishes and amber depression glass.

As I unwrapped each piece, scratching my nose from the dust in the air, I carefully placed them in my own cabinet. One by one, finding their special place.

Then I saw it. My name. She had written my name on a box. Inside I found a cake plate and server I had given her for a birthday. I remember picking it out, standing in a gift shop, wondering if she would like the pink and blue flowers that decorated the china cake plate and matching server. Somehow, I knew she would never use it, but I bought it anyway. It didn't matter if she never used it. It was pretty and I wanted her to have something pretty for her birthday.

I suppose she wrote my name on the box not long after she opened her gift, as many old ladies do. They want to remember who gave them what, not so that they can just remember, but so that when they are gone, that person can have it back. My own grandmother did the very same thing.

And so I have a cake plate with pink and blue flowers, with a matching server. It belonged to her- my husband's grandmother, my daughter's great grandmother. Somehow what means more to me is the box, with her handwriting on it. So I will keep the box, but I will take out the cake plate and server and I will use them.

Along with the wheat dishes and the amber depression glass.

Because I want to remember her. I want to honor her memory. I want my daughter to know that people live on in our hearts long after they are gone. I want her to learn that when a loved one dies and goes on to be with The Lord in Heaven, that we will see them again someday.

Until that day, we will look at the wheat dishes and the amber depression glass in our cabinet. Some days we will take them out to dust them. Sometimes we will take them out and make beautiful place settings for Thanksgiving or for no special occasion at all.

We will share laughter and cake over the china plate with pink and blue flowers and matching server.

And we will remember her.


Kelli said...

That was a beautiful tribute. She will live on, and on.

Big Mama said...

I love this. I can picture those plates and the cake server. Great writing.

Nancy said...

A lovely remembrance, well done.

ValleyGirl said...

Beautiful. What wonderful memories and stories you'll be able to share over cake or 'just because' fancy dinners. And what a great way to teach your children about moving on while still treasuring the memories. What a beautifully written post.

Tammy said...

So beautifully written, Melanie!

Susanne said...

A very beautiful honoring of a great grandmother!

sprymary said...

I really liked your comment about appreciated the writing on the box...we too like looking at things tiihat Grammy's has written over time. I remember those dishes from many Thanksgiving dinners. Now I can imagine you enjoying them over time. What a beautiful tribute you have written! Cindy R.

Roxanne said...

Precious and sweet memories.

mira said...

Thank you for sharing that beautiful post.

Sista Cala said...

What a touching tribute. I could picture myself looking at the display of dishes. Brought to my mind lots of memories of my 2 grannies and my 3 great grannies. They are all w/the Lord now, but their legacy lives on. All of grandkids have some of their possessions, but more importantly; We have the Bible principles that they taught and disciplined into us.

nancygrayce said...

Memories of grandmas are the greatest!

justabeachkat said...

What a beautifully written post. Very sweet and touching.


C. H. Green said...

Beautiful post...I feel the same about my treasures.