It sits in the back of my clothes cupboard. Years worth of cards, letters, pictures and memorabilia all are stuffed inside. I'd wanted to do a little organizing, so I pulled out the old memory box. I must have tried rearranging it once before, for I found birthday cards bundled together, each from a specific person: my husband, son, brother and parents. Other assorted items lay in the bottom: a broken piece of a hockey stick signed by a favorite player from when I was younger. A plastic heart necklace from some kids I taught Sunday school to back in the early eighties. Items from my Nonna who had passed away long ago. It had been a long time since I'd viewed the contents of this box. What other treasures would I find?
I began opening the cards. There were humorous ones from my brother. We'd always had the type of relationship where we ribbed one another mercilessly. He would comment on birthday cards of how old I was getting--since I'm fourteen years his senior--and would include little drawings and sayings that had meant something to us through the years.
I opened cards from old friends, people I hadn't seen in a while. I found thank you's and good wishes from people when I left a job I'd worked at for twenty-seven years. Some of the patients wishing me well in my new life, and a letter of recommendation from my old boss that warmed my heart.
When I found my son's cards, I paused and read each of them carefully. A mother treasures such things especially when you aren't always vocal about your feelings. The writing inside the cards spoke volumes to me about the way he felt. So much appreciation for me as a mom. And love that he isn't able to express so easily.
The last batch of cards were from my parents. There were ones all the way back to the late seventies. There were humorous drawings from them, silly stick figures and animals that had made me laugh through the years. There were sayings from our favorite movies, and even some poetic prose from my mother. When I found a few letters my mother had written and carefully tucked into the birthday cards, I took the time to read them word for word. With her worsening dementia, it has become more important than ever to remember who she once was, and how caring and intelligent she'd been.
There were words from Mom that told of her happiness of our closeness. That we were more than mother and daughter, but best friends too. There were words that told of her feelings of love and how proud she'd been of me, though I'd always felt I messed up so terribly in my life. She called me her shining star, and said that if it wasn't for me, she didn't think she would have made it through some of the difficult times. I felt overwrought with emotion, and the words blurred on the pages of the letters as tears welled up in my eyes and spilled over onto my cheeks. My husband asked why I was crying, and I couldn't bring to words what it meant to me finding these precious gifts tucked away in an old box.
I still need to weed through and do a bit more organizing. But today I'll do it with a lighter heart. For now I know just how much I've been loved and appreciated.