This weekend, I unpacked a few boxes. No, I didn’t move. I’ve lived in my house for almost sixteen years. And yes, one of those boxes had been sitting in my parlor since we moved. The other was a box of things I took from my husband’s grandmother’s things after she passed away–almost ten years ago.
I know you must be thinking it’s terrible that I let those boxes sit so long. Truth be told, in the past, I haven’t used my parlor much. However, I recently put a small daybed in this room for overnight guests who have trouble with the stairs or who like to be on the same floor as the bathroom! So, I’ve been cleaning out the room, which involves unpacking.
A friend of mine wrote a lovely paragraph this week about grief that was published on a website. She talked about finding her grandmother’s old handkerchief and wondering about what events she had mourned while crying into that handkerchief. I wonder that as well as whose little noses were wiped with that hanky–maybe my husband’s or my son’s. Was she holding one of these when she buried her husband only two months after I married their grandson? They’re beautiful and colorful. Some looked well-used, while others were clearly for special occasions. Lots of rich colors–purples, reds, blues and oranges. That was Mamaw. She was colorful. She loved being the center of attention and always brimmed with energy and smiles. My sister-in-law suggested I put them in a shadow box. I’m working on that. I had one that I’d been saving for just the right project. I also have some costume jewelry that belonged to Mamaw. So, I thought I’d put those in the box as well. One small box contained a broken strand of pearls and another that resembled Mardi Gras beads. Nothing exceptional about these necklaces, but when I opened that small box, I was struck by the scent. That small box that held those faux pearls held the rich, strong scent of her perfume. How could it be that after ten years, the scent could be so strong, and still so memorable. What unexpected treasures and memories that box held!
Another box I unpacked held treasures from my youth. Trophies from when I played softball in middle school, danced with the Golden Girls in high school, a talent competition in middle school where I danced and pantomimed the Good Ship Lollipop dressed like Shirley Temple! That box also contained candles I’d collected when I was little: a pink mouse, a red dog with long ears, a yellow duck, and a candy apple. I wondered why I kept them all these years. Why had I wanted them in the first place?They were whimsical, shiny, and smooth to the touch. I remembered that looking at them when I was little made me smile and allowed my imagination to take flight. Such simple things, these candles, yet they accomplished things that I now find difficult. Now when I’m looking for my imagination to activate, I think of taking a trip. When I was young, all I needed was a colorful, shiny, smooth candle.
Unpacking makes room for old as well as new thoughts and ideas to generate. It also makes old memories fresh, and takes us back to perhaps a simpler time where we can remember and revisit people and things we loved so that we can love them anew through a scent, a texture, a thought. Take time to remember and wonder about something this week and see where the memories take you. Maybe you, too, have an old box waiting for you to unlock its treasures.