Things of the Heart
Copyright 2023 by Sara Etgen-Baker
property of Sara.
People sometimes tell me the
heirlooms given to me hold no value over how my heart feels, but
these things have memories, stories of where they've come from that
tug at my heart. They’re scattered about my home, adorning it
as subtle nostalgic strings upon which travel the finest emotions of
cookie jar is one such item. It’s a
rather rotund, ceramic Shawnee Pottery Pig she purchased in 1950 that
she named Sweetie-Pig. She kept it in a corner
cabinet in her
kitchen, a bit out of my childhood reach forcing me to stand on
ballerina toes hoping to nab just one of her sugar cookies. It now
sits atop my refrigerator filled with sugar cookies. I can’t
imagine my adulthood without the promise of one of the mist-shrouded
cookies of yesteryear. When I get the urge, I lift Sweetie-Pig’s
faded and aged lid and grab a cookie from her taking in all the
wonderful memories of Grammy’s sweet smile while reminiscing
about her sugar cookies.
Mother’s pink gold cameo necklace is a
heirloom, a necklace she received upon graduation from high school.
Wearing it reminds me of the rare occasion when she wore it, like her
anniversary or Mother’s Day. I remember Pop standing behind
her, his brown eyes sparkling, gently draping it around her neck.
Using his large, calloused fingers, he closed the tiny clasp; placed
a gentle kiss on her right earlobe; and whispered, “I love
you.” I cherished their demonstration of love for one
another, their timeless bond that even now leaves me feeling warm,
secure, and safe.
Touching Pop’s wire-rim glasses transports
to our family’s living room where he sat down every evening
with a cup of coffee, positioned his glasses on his nose, routinely
reading the evening newspaper or his fishing magazine. I often sat at
his side on the couch or by his feet reading a book, silently sharing
the evening with him.
My childhood piggy bank, Esmerelda, is a
birthday gift I
received from my Aunt Betty who’d once stuffed Esmerelda’s
belly with coins when she was a child. Relda, as I named her, now
sits on a bookshelf in my office reminding me of how many times I,
too, stuffed Relda’s belly with coins I found or money I earned
doing chores or running errands. Seeing her triggers memories of the
lessons I learned in delayed gratification and frugality.
As a young girl, I was fascinated with
Lane cedar chest, often sneaking into her bedroom and peeking inside,
believing that it was a magical treasure chest where pixies that
smelt like cedar lived. Granny’s cedar chest now sits in my
bedroom where every so often I open it, its rusty hinges creaking,
and inhale that familiar cedar smell. I’m instantly sent back
in time remembering Granny and the homemade quilts, linens, and lace
doilies she stored inside.
While all these things are certainly
priceless, the one
I treasure the most is an antique heirloom box filled with
photographs, cards, letters, and assorted memorabilia. From time to
time, I scour through its contents noticing that cousins, nieces, and
nephews look so young and small in the images now yellowing inside
the box. And the handwriting so solid and steady in old letters and
cards now looks less solid and steady. Has it really been that long?
Some of the memories conjure up times spent with family members
long-since passed, and I once again experience the sour taste of
losing them. The images of visits to their homes bring back fond
childhood memories that warm my heart, lift my spirits, and help me
more vividly remember them.
These heirlooms and many more around my
invaluable—a treasure trove of things of the heart, infused
with memories and emotions. I’m grateful for these tiny
time machines, for they transport me back in time connecting me to a
relative who lived long ago; a place from my past; or a
long-forgotten special moment or event.
of the message
won't know where to send it.)
story list and biography
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