Thursday, April 3, 2014
test of time
This is a picture taken in the 40's of my mother. Look at that hair. She looks like a Breck girl. Remember those pictures on the back of magazines; the Breck girl all misty and golden with wonderful wavy tresses?
I'm not sure why photos of that time had people gazing off into a corner. What about eye contact. Oh well. It really is a pretty picture of her even if she's staring at the crown molding.
I didn't know she had a locket.
At least, I didn't know she had a locket until I found it.
And it was in the strangest place.
The fall my mother moved in with us was turbulent. I packed up her suite in fits and starts in the early morning or late in the evenings after work. I packed and sorted and packed and sorted. I always knew it was time to stop each night when I started to say things like, "Why!??" or "You've GOT to be kidding!"
My parents kept things.
Lots of things.
I could write an entire blog on that but suffice it to say, condensing another person's possessions, especially a parent's, is harrowing work.
Late one evening, I reached the back of a cupboard and lifted down a Blue Mountain goose vase. It was filled with the ancient remnants of a dried flower bouquet. I pulled them wearily out into the black bag at my feet and shook the vase. It rattled with seed pods and bits of bark.
I suppose I could have merely emptied it over the trash and been none the wiser, but something stopped me and I dumped the contents into my hand.
There, dully glowing, was a very old, dented locket.
I stared at it.
I lifted it up dazedly and opened it.
My young father smiled out at me.
I burst into tears.
I quit packing for the night.
It seems to me now, with the safe distance of time, such a metaphor. That locket represents a young woman I never knew. A girl in love with a soldier. She kept him next to her heart. The locket served its purpose and the realities of life, of motherhood and aging followed one after the other. It takes some sorting and editing and even discarding sometimes to see what really matters. To see what really is of lasting value. Their love stood the test of time.
It still does.