This story just goes to prove that God will give us what we truly need even when we don't realize what that is.
An Old Shoe Box
by Linda Smith
In 1979, my father's father passed away at the age of 98.
A few short weeks after the funeral, my father told me that he was
going back to San Jose, California, where Granddad's home was, to be of assistance with the disposal of the contents of the house. He asked me if there was anything from Granddad's home that I would like to have, by way of a keepsake. I thought of all the wonderful smells and treasures in all the rooms of the home, that I had visited so often through the years, and everything brought back memories of family gatherings with aunts, uncles, cousins, and the adventures of hide-n'-seek.
The kitchen and breakfast room were marvelous! The stove was an old, vintage gas stove, with a fancy little storage cubby for matches. Over the sink was a small "window" to the breakfast room, where we enjoyed so many delicious early morning meals of orange juice, flap jacks with homemade maple syrup, or eggs and biscuits with gravy. On the back porch was an old ringer washer. My grandmother used it until she passed away when
I was 7, but Granddad bought a new automatic washer when he remarried a few years later. I missed the old ringer! There was the main floor bedroom where my grandmother spent so many months in bed before she left us, with her dresser full of treasures, and the room that always seemed to be saved for when my aunt was visiting. Upstairs were more bedrooms, each with their special smells and memories. But, in the dining roomthere was a narrow shelf that ran around the whole room, high above the
reach of small children. On this shelf was a collection of teacups
and saucers from my grandmother's travels. One in particular had caught my eye when I was very young. It was white, decorated with an embossed gray dragon that had a glittering turquoise jewel for an eye. This was the only thing in the house that I wanted.
"It's yours!" my father told me. When he arrived, much of the work was already done. My aunt and her daughters had claimed nearly all the furniture, after having spent so many years caring for Granddad and his home. That was, well, ... OK.
But when my father asked about the teacup, his sister told him, "Oh, oneof my girls already has that and will not give it up."
Disappointed, Dad walked around the house wondering what he could salvage from what was left to bring to me, that would be a remembrance of my grandparents. He ended up in the attic, which had already been emptied of antiques, such as the old cylinder record player and treadle sewing machine. All
that was left were a few old shoe and boot boxes in the corners. Dad began looking, found one he thought worth his time, tucked it under his arm and walked out of the house, while asking if anyone was interested in any of the old shoe boxes from the attic.
I am now in possession of the contents of that box. My cousins can have all the furniture and dishes, scarves and jewelry. I have the family! Contained in the old shoe box were photos of my ancestors dating back through the Civil War, with letters, journals, records with dates and places, post cards, and much
in the way of personal histories. I was able to make a picture
pedigree, which extends for 7 generations beginning with my children. In looking at all the pictures, I can see the resemblance I have to them. My 3rd great-grandmother's jaw-line is evident in every generation right to my picture. I don't particularly look like her, but she is part of me. I remember the teacup with its sparkling turquoise gem and all the memories that surround it. It is as bright in my mind today as the day I first saw it. But I no longer imagine who my ancestors are. They are real, and preserved in a beautifully arranged scrapbook (courtesy of
my daughter, Rebecca) and I can now visit each of them every day.
-- Linda Smith