We call them heirloom gifts…
For the past couple years I’ve been receiving hand-me-down gifts for birthdays and Christmases from my parents. Sometimes these are gifts from my childhood – my baby book, drawings I did in school, my sticker collection, the hospital receipt from my birth, all the letters I wrote to Santa (I’m still not sure why he sent them back to my parents, but it’s better not to question whatever magic is at play there), etc… Occasionally, the heirloom gifts from my parents are possessions from my grandparents that they are passing along little by little. One such of those gifts was a box full of little odds and ends.
I started to sift through that box immediately after I opened it. I loved my grandparents and miss them greatly, and was excited to see what treasures of theirs I was getting. At the same time, I was sad that my wife, the queen, and our little prince will never get to meet them. A full range of emotions was bubbling away under my calm demeanor.
I began to pull things out of the box, smiling as a memory here and a memory there were shaken loose from my mind and allowed to float to the surface. All the while, a pain in my heart and soul grew stronger and stronger. Each new item was more painful than the last to dig out of the box.
I pulled out a couple pairs of socks my grandma had knitted and smiled thinking of the hours she had probably spent on her davenport darning them. I pulled out a couple of the lighters my grandpa had kept in the top drawer of his dresser and wondered if had ever used them or if he had collected them after he stopped smoking. I pulled out a pair of fancy dress gloves that were my grandma’s. I pulled out my grandpa’s wallet, opened it, and… Well, that is as far as I was able to get that day.
The pictures he kept in his wallet, the memories tucked safely away for his keeping, were too much for me to handle. I put everything back in the box, thanked my parents and moved on. I tried to fight back the tears that wanted to well up and pour down my face.
I have no idea how successful I was.
The box has remained unsorted, unreviewed, safely stowed away since that day. Eventually I will pull it out and go through it. Eventually I will see what other treasures are waiting for me inside. I know I will find things in there that will make me smile, and laugh, and cry. Eventually I will be ready to face all of those emotions.