There was a package in the mail on Saturday, with the return address of my Aunt Muriel, and big $2 stamps plastered on the front. Aunt Muriel is a writer, and for years we’ve exchanged news of our writing when we exchange holiday cards. She was delighted when The Truth About Death was published, and I cheered for her when she had stories selected in local writing competitions and published in local papers. It’s been a relationship of letters that I’ve valued, even though I haven’t seen her for 30 years or more. I didn’t know what to expect in the package, since it’s past the usual holiday card exchange time frame.
Inside I found an ancient looking jewelry box, and a card. The card read, “I have enjoyed keeping in touch with you and reading and empathizing with your work. I am getting near the end of my life, and I have been going through and deciding what to do with different things and ‘treasures.’ I came across this piece that was made from Grandma McKinlay’s necklaces and I thought you might like to have it. I hope having it will please you.” I opened the box, which had been carefully taped shut, to find a necklace of shell beads.
Delighted with the gift, I brought the box and card to show Alison the next day, when we met to go skiing. “Just look how old this box is. What, maybe 50 years old?”
“Wait, I have a box just like that,” Alison said and went upstairs, coming back with a box that, though a big larger, was indeed very like the box Aunt Muriel sent me. Alison opened the box to a pink and silver pin.
“My Aunt Jean gave me this at the end of her life,” Alison said. “It’s a pin my mother gave her, and that she thought I’d like to have.” Alison’s mother died when she was a child, and her Aunt Jean knew it would mean a lot to Alison to have something from her mother. “There’s even a card,” Alison said, pulling out the small card behind the pin. “My mother gave this to Aunt Jean for a birthday, and told her it would look good with her black and white dress.”
The fact that Alison and I will most likely never wear the jewelry our elderly aunts gave us doesn’t matter. We both have “treasures” that we may pass along some day ourselves.