One of my first classics that I ever read was Black Beauty. My mom engaged my imagination before I ever opened the worn pages of the hard-backed classic in my dad's library. A beaten horse, the search for belonging, tragedy, and triumph. Now that very copy sits on a shelf in my living room, waiting for the day I can tempt my own daughter with the tale of a very beautiful, black horse. Its pages are yellowed, and the musty smell that emanates from the bindings are a perfume of remembrance. It will remain with me.
Not all heirlooms are old. Some are simple memories attached to someone else's preferences. When I was little, my mom and I used to visit the local St. Vincent's de Paul to search for used treasures. Mine were typically baby clothes to use for my dolls, stuffed animals, Nancy Drew books, and sometimes a little trinket. My mom collected jars. Unique little things that were usually hand-crafted but somehow ended up in a second-hand shop. She had a story of shelves where she stored them. A few years ago, when my parents scaled back from my childhood home, my mom decided it was time to bid them farewell. They held little value, she said. I agreed. In the scheme of life, how much can we hoard? Really. So in togetherness, we hauled boxes of "junk" back to St. Vincent de Paul's once again. Only somehow, this one, my favorite, ended up at my house. Huh. How did that happen?
My grandmother's jewelry box. Porcelain, imitation of that beautiful Southern belle. I'm not certain where she ever got it, but I always recollect it sitting proudly on her bureau. In it, she'd put her rings, maybe a necklace, a watch . . .
She's gone now. Her presence on this earth is reduced to memories. Misty thoughts that come now and again, of her smile, her smell, her laugh, her everything. So sometimes, a memory requires something more tangible to attach itself too. For we are creatures of senses, and memories do not always engage the senses. But I can touch and feel her porcelain doll jewelry box. It's an heirloom, you see.
Heirlooms hold the memories of our hearts. Someday, when I fade away, my memories will too. Perhaps you'll see a pottery jar on a shelf at St. Vincent's, or a porcelain doll on a table at garage sale. You'll notice a worn copy of Black Beauty and wonder who dog-eared its pages. But for now, these items serve their purpose. The memories tucked inside of them have formed me. Helped to make me who I am.
So for now, my house may be a tad cluttered. But I am happy with that. I'm surrounded by stories. That is a fine place to be.
Do you have a special heirloom with memories tucked inside?