The box called my name every time I passed by it. I hadn't been able to look through the keepsakes Mom kept during their 56 years of marriage. It felt like I would be incredibly nosy if I opened the lid.
I tried going through the memorabilia with Dad after we lost her, but he wouldn't have any part of it. When Dad moved into the nursing home, the box came home with me, and has remained unopened since the last time Mom filed away a memory.
Another snowstorm made me do it. I ran out of things to go through, clean out or cook, so I headed to the basement. Even though there are plenty of things that need done down there, I pulled out the box, pulled up a chair and spent the better part of an afternoon going through each item. From newspaper clippings to homemade cards from the grandkids, her love for her family was more apparent than I ever took the time to notice when she was with us.
Mom wasn't the bubbly type. She didn't make over about much of anything and kept her feelings to herself. It was difficult to know if she was happy, sad or even angry. She pretty much kept her emotions at an even keel. She wasn't big on displaying her love with hugs or kisses, but you could always count on her to be there when you needed someone, and even when you didn't think you did. There wasn't anything she owned she wouldn't give to you, except maybe for her glue gun and sewing machine.
The box holds a timetable of her life, including her and dads' baby books to birth announcements of all four of us kids and grandkids.
Anything that was printed, and had been shared with her, about anyone she loved, she cut out and dated, with the names neatly underlined. This will be one of the things society will miss as we slowly lose the art of reading a printed newspaper, looking at printed pictures or receiving handwritten notes. Now we rely on technology to hold our memories, instead of a box.
I never asked my parents how they met and fell in love. I learned part of their story from the many letters in the box, written by Dad to Mom, while he was in the service during World War II. He and mom became friends while he worked in grandpa's grocery store. When he was drafted, he left behind a good job and, apparently, a good friend.
Although I was only able to get one side of the story through his letters, I was surprised to find out she was going to be engaged to someone else, who had also been drafted, and she wanted Dad’s opinion on whether or not she should marry the guy. She must have gotten her answer, which she probably was after all along, that dad was as interested in her and she was in him.
I don't know how long it took after he returned home before they declared their love to each other, although I have a feeling it didn't take long. As the dated letters neared his discharge, he began referring to her as "cuddles."
I'm glad I looked in the box, but even more delighted I now know the beginning of their love story.
Sandy Turner lives in Independence. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org