Monday, January 17, 2011


The old wooden jewelry box had the feel of an advent calendar. Each compartment
opened to reveal something new for another day. It had been passed down from the 70’s and
didn’t stand much taller than 3/4 of a foot. The rich mahogany was complemented by the floral
fabric adorning the far sides of each tassel. The material looked as if it had been dipped in coffee
and left to set for a few days. The brass tassels could be pulled to engage the hinged doors,
revealing a myriad of of little droors and knobs. When carried, the box covered the entirety of
my torso and didn’t flaunt much else besides it’s little knobbed feet, like the claws on an antique
bath tub.
    Inside, a wreath-like pull revealed a mustard-yellow organized in rolls, like ribbons of velvet. This compartment held rings. Just above it, a square box with a circular knob, concealed bracelets and other larger pieces of armory. To the right of these compartments, were four similarly shaped rectangular drawers. On the far right side was an empty tall space, with a circular spinner attached to the top, to hold necklaces.
    My mother had always had a strained relationship with her mother. When my mother tried out for high school cheerleading, my grandmother told her she would never make it. But she did. My mom’s family moved around until they finally settled in a small town that contained nearly all their kin. Each person was at least a cousin, twice-removed. Imagine bringing a guy home to mom only to have her recognize him. When it seemed like they would all but go insane, my mother and grandmother found solace in one another. My grandmother bought my mom a jewelry box for Christmas.
    Flash forward ten years and you’ll find my mother and grandmother at odds. Over some stupid reason I was too young to understand, my mother and her mother decided not to speak. Things stayed this way for another seven or eight years. We discovered my grandfather had Alzheimer’s so the whole not-speaking-because-of-pride issue seemed a whole lot more trivial and eventually blew over. My grandmother and mother started talking on the phone nearly everyday. They started visiting one another more. They sent cards every holiday they couldn’t be there in person.
    One year my mother gave me a jewelry box that her mother had given her back in the 70’s. Before, it seemed like she held onto it, unable to let it go, unable to let her mother go. But now that she had her mother back, a simple object was unnecessary. Now the jewelry box sits on the floor of my bedroom, containing all of the little trinkets I’ve collected over my lifetime. Its rich mahogany contains the time-worn face of my grandmother, who apologetically cries for the time she lost in the lives of my mother and I. In the coffee-colored floral, I see the mother that I oftentimes feud with, but also the woman who smiles in my success.

No comments:

Post a Comment