Saturday, April 7, 2012

Green Plastic Beads

Our family lives in a 1940's home that we purchased two years ago from the original owners.  The house is in desperate need of top to bottom updating giving  Mr. A and I enough home projects to last our lifetime.  One of  my favorite places, one that will remain unchanged, is the ten foot wall of windows in our kitchen that overlooks the backyard.  The window sill is a museum that displays the objects and treasures I adore most.

There is a geranium, planted by Miss J in preschool in a terracotta pot she lovingly painted herself.  (It is no small miracle that I have managed to keep this plant alive for many years now).  There is a god's eye, created from lengths of yard and sticks found in the backyard.  Miss J had been ill with a fever of 102 on the hot summer day she created it.  She'd sat in the shaded grass, carefully winding the yarn around the sticks.  Also in my window sill display is a small red piggy bank, hand painted by Miss J, and also a rock that caught her fancy.

There are more of her treasures that pepper the house:
The magnetic picture frame constructed of craft foam that holds a snapshot of our family sitting in front of a waterfall in New Hampshire.
The oatmeal container-turned-storage for loose change made one Father's Day for Mr. A.
A birdhouse decorated with pinecones, pebbles and twigs that lives in the window of our dining room.
A small balsa wood painted box that gently holds my jewelry on a bed of cotton balls.

Through the years I have proudly displayed sea glass collected from the beach and dandelions in make-shift vases of rinsed out mustard jars.  (And once a daffodil, picked without permission from a neighbor's yard.) An empty pickle jar held acorns, collected and polished, from the towering oak tree in our front yard.

I adore these gifts from Miss J.
Each tells a story.
Each is a memory.
Each is a snapshot of her at nine.

These gifts are one of my greatest joys of motherhood, tangible memories of Miss J's childhood.   My most treasured items, just as they were for my mother.

When I was a child, I went to a flea market and had my own money to spend.  The memory is somewhat clouded...I cannot recall why I was at the flea market or who I was with and why I was not with my mother that day.  I remember finding a napkin holder.  It was metal and painted with flat black paint.  On one side, printed in yellow and white paint, was a table grace.  A piece of masking tape affixed on the napkin holder read the price: 02.

I was amazed by this marvelous find! Certainly this was a gift my mother must have!  Being a napkin holder with a table grace it was both functional and meaningful!  And being a mere two cents my mother, with her New England thrift, would appreciate how little I had paid for such a magnificent piece.  I proudly paid my two pennies and could not wait to get home to give my mother this gift.

I gave her the two-cent napkin holder more than thirty-five years ago where it remains in her house to this day.  She never let it go;  never discarded it for something more modern, more suiting for her kitchen decor.  I have my painted pots and god's eye; she has her napkin holder...badges of motherhood displayed proudly in our homes.

I have treasured Miss J's gifts and, at times, I have felt a small ache in my heart wishing for M to one day run up to me with an acorn he found interesting or with a picture he drew. Admittedly, a piece of me has wished that he would understand how special this is for me, that he would "get it."  A piece of me has always wished to display M's  keepsakes on the window sill beside his sister's.

This morning M was watching television in our living room.  I was in the next room putting the final touches on Miss J and M's Easter baskets.  I heard Miss J stirring in her room and I called out to her.

"I'm finishing your Easter basket, J!  Don't come in here!"
"Okay!"  she called back and took a seat by M in front of the television.

From the corner of my eye I saw M run into his room.  He was back seconds later.
"Mama! Mama! I have a present for you!  Here Mama!"

I was stunned.  Did he understand that I was making a present for him and had he wanted to give something to me?

M came to me, holding a metallic green plastic necklace tightly in his hand.  He held them up and placed them around my neck.  He kissed my forehead.

"For you, Mama.  You are a good Mama."
He turned and went back to watching his cartoon.

It was from him, all on his own.
No one helped him
No one had guided him.
This was from M.

This was a gift from his heart.

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