The Trunk

She was cleaning out the attic when she saw it. Tucked away back in a corner was a trunk, the kind of   trunk that you would find in an antique store. It was old, had a rounded top, and it looked like it had had a hard life. Curious, she pulled it out of the corner. Stenciled across the top were initials. Looking closely, she could barely read because of the fading. She was pretty sure they were an R and a W.

“Can it be?” she thought, “Those are my mother’s initials.

Pulling up an old overstuffed chair, she sat down and stared at the trunk. A relic of the past, she wondered what kind of secrets it held. Her mother had recently passed away, and she had finally worked up the courage to go through her things. It was hard. She missed her mother terribly. Fighting back the tears, she unlatched the lid, and slowly lifted it, sending clouds of dust into the air.

“Mother, what have you done?” she whispered to herself, “I had no idea you did this.”

It was like opening a time capsule. The trunk was completely full of her family’s memories. Suddenly she was transported back to her childhood. There was everything there, things long-forgotten about and things that were cherished. Carefully she emptied the trunk, knowing that the oldest things would be on the bottom. The paper items were becoming brittle with age from being in a hot, stuffy attic, so she handled them gingerly, each of them bringing a smile to her face.

On the very bottom was a newspaper, yellow from age, and its edges tattered. She gently opened it and came to the Obituary and New Births section. Her eyes were drawn to something circled. She smiled as she read it. Mr. and Mrs. Robert Winston would like to announce the arrival of their daughter, Rebecca Winston. She was born on June 14,1949 at 8:43 am at General Hospital.

She read about her birth and all of the details. Setting it aside, she picked up a small box, opened it, and was delighted to find her first pair of shoes, her baby rattle, and a tiny outfit with the name “Becky” embroidered on it.

The next thing she opened was a large manila envelope. Inside she found dozens of pictures that had been colored with crayons. Everything from the erratic scrawls of a beginner to well-done pictures with the colors inside the lines. Her name was boldly emblazoned on each one. Out of the same envelope came a bundle of valentines, each of them addressed to her mommy, held together with a pink ribbon.

She found hundreds of pictures, her report cards, and projects done both at school and Sunday School. Newspaper clippings lauded her involvement in various school clubs, choir, and the National Honor Society.

Next, she found an envelope full of things concerning her college years. Her sorority, clubs, and accomplishments were all there. She was amazed.

In another corner of the trunk, she found items that her mother had saved from her marriage ceremony to Randall. There were napkins with their name on them, a brown and disintegrated corsage, that her mother wore, was in a plastic container, and a small, unused lace pouch of rice.

She found pictures, sorted by year, of all of the family vacations. They loved the National Parks and had visited several of them. Her mother’s favorite was the Grand Canyon and she had always wanted to do the mule ride. She would stand on the canyon rim, watch the riders, shake her head, and sigh. Her father had tried to book it for her birthday but was never able to get it done.

In another corner of the trunk, she found a stack of letters, bound together with a red ribbon. Untying it, she realized that they were letters written to her mother while her father was fighting, in the Pacific, in World War II. Fascinated, she opened one and realized it was a love letter, a very personal and erotic love letter. She blushed and then smiled as she returned the letter to its envelope. She would read them later. There was still much to see.

There was a small box with her father’s dog tags, a velvet-covered box with a Purple Heart, three medals he had earned, and his discharge papers. Picking up a photograph, she found herself looking at her father in his Marine uniform, young, handsome, and cocky. He looked like he could whip the world.

Looking further, she found mementos of her parent’s fiftieth wedding anniversary. A large picture of her mother in an evening gown and her father in a tuxedo was there.

She teared up when she found a copy of her father’s obituary. He had suffered from dementia for years and finally, his heart gave out. Her mother had taken it very hard; they had been married for sixty-one wonderful years.

It was a treasure trove of her family’s history. She was putting everything back in the trunk when she found it. In fact, she didn’t know how she missed it. A small stack of books caught her eye. Picking up the one on top, she saw the embossed words “My Diary.”

Thrilled, she opened the book and began to read. Since it was on top it was her mother’s first diary. She had started making entries while in high school. Her father had been in the class ahead of her. They started dating, fell in love, and got married not long after they graduated.

Becky read things about her mother that she never knew. All of her wants, desires, fears, and especially everything about her father. Becky found out that her mother knew that her father was the man she would marry. She knew it as soon as they started dating. Her mother talked about how many children she wanted, where she wanted to live, all kinds of things, deep, personal things.

Becky spent hours with the diaries. Time flew by as if an hour was a minute. When she got to the last diary, she noticed an envelope inside the cover. Curious, she picked it up and noticed that it was addressed to her. With trembling, hands she opened it and began to read:

My Dearest Rebecca, 

If you are reading this then you have found the trunk. It also means that I have passed away and am now with your father. We are probably walking, hand in hand, on a street of gold in heaven.

Are you amazed at the trunk? I know that I kept it a secret. I wanted to surprise you and I hope it did. It was fun putting it together. A lot of precious memories are there.

Rebecca, your father and I watched you grow into a beautiful woman, both inside and out, and we are so proud of you. We taught you how to love, how to show love, and how to graciously receive it. We introduced you to Jesus, you accepted Him, and have become the woman you are today. Rebecca, always walk in Christ’s love.

We were so blessed. You gave us a son-in-law that honors, respects, and loves you. You gave us two wonderful grandchildren that we love with all of our hearts. Rhonda and Richard were such a blessing to us. We loved our family dearly.

But most of all we loved you, more than you could possibly know. We loved you as only a parent can ever love a child.

Rebecca, one day we will see you again. We are waiting for you here in heaven.

We love you,

Mom and Dad

Overcome with emotion, Becky closed her eyes, lifted her hands toward heaven, whispered a soft thank you, and then she cried.

January 6, 2021