Thursday, December 26, 2013

Surprise Christmas Present

by Bill Holmes  

On Christmas night I was looking through a big box of photographs that my parents had kept for years. It is one of several boxes of photos and other stuff that I inherited. About 99% of it is because my Mom kept it. Dad wasn't interested in much memorabilia. All this stuff has been in my den for about ten years. It got there when I moved my dad here. Mom had died about a year and a half before. Dad didn't really want to rummage through the stuff and be reminded that his wife of over 60 years was gone. After dad died a couple of years later I didn't much feel like bringing up the past either. As time went by, the boxes and other things in the corner of the den became part of the room. I don't really use that room much and when I do it is to use the desk which is on the other side of the room and faces away from that corner. The stuff was out of sight in plain sight. Every once in awhile I'd notice it or I'd think about what treasures are contained in those old photos and documents. Those thoughts have been more frequent recently.

I have kind of been formulating a new years resolution, although I hate that term and concept, that 2014 will be the year I go through all that stuff. The intent is to cull the trash and redundancies, pass on that which is more relevant to others and consolidate what is left. Along the way maybe identify some of the photos that don't have dates, places, events or people written on the back. Mom was pretty good about writing at least minimal information on many of the photos but there are batches that have no information and others that may only have a year documented. For as long as I can remember, Mom would say "I need to organize these pictures" or "someday I'll put these in albums". She never did so now it falls to me. I've heard those same promises from many others.

While going through the one box, I was able to identify people, places, time frames and circumstances of some photos. I know my sons would have no idea about most of the photos. There are also many of the pictures that I have no clue about and some I recognize one or two people out of the eight or ten in the frame. The one box I looked through had a few letters and cards along with hundreds of photos that ranged from the 1940's to the 2000's. All in no particular order or groupings. Organizing that one box will be a challenge and there are several others too. I already found some treasures in the first box, so now I am finally eager to delve into the rest.

As mentioned the pictures were in no particular order. Most were still in those envelopes that we got back from Walgreens, Eckerd or whoever developed the pictures, some even had the negatives. Others were in envelopes with a card or letter, some in plain envelopes and a few just loose. I never knew what would come next. Even within an envelope there could be a 1960 photo mixed with several 1990 shots.

So you may ask, why am I telling you all this and what does it have to do with Christmas and gifts? It has to do with what I found over half way through the contents of the box. I picked up a plain envelope with no writing on it. The very tip of the flap was sealed. That wasn't unusual as several envelopes had been partially sealed either on purpose or because of moisture and pressure over the years. On this particular envelope I easily pried it open without any tearing. I noticed that the envelope was light and not stiff or curved like many of the others. That was not surprising since I had already come across some empty envelopes and some that just had a note and/or small photo in them.

This particular envelope contained no notes and no pictures. Well, that's not exactly true either. It actually contained eight notes each with an engraved picture, two of Lincoln, one of Hamilton and five of Jackson. All eight notes were from the Federal Reserve. Yep, there was $120 in the envelope. The latest date on any of the bills was 1995. As soon as I saw the money I knew where it came from. It was my Christmas present from Mom almost 12 years after she died. For any of you who knew my Mom or those who maybe read my post about her, which you can find here at this link, know she stashed money in various places. It was her mad money. While she was in hospice she told me about a stash of a couple of hundred bucks hidden in one of her winter coats that was hanging in a closet back home. I guess she had forgotten about this envelope hidden amongst the old snapshots or maybe it got there by accident.

Whatever the reason, I found it on Christmas night which is an especially good night to remember Mom. It also was coincidentally the same day I had forgiven my son part of an unfortunate charge on one of my credit cards, but that's another story. It fits perfectly because besides stashing money, Nana would do anything for her grandsons. She would have forgiven the whole debt and given my son another couple hundred bucks just for good measure. I am not nearly as generous, softhearted, charitable or sympathetic as my Mom. Few people are.

So, we had a kismet, coincidence, metaphysical, ethereal something happened here experience. I am not a religious person, particularly not organized religion. I'm also not arrogant enough to think I have all the answers. There are tons of things we don't know and can't yet explain. My Mom's spirit/soul deserves to live on. She does in my mind and those who knew her. Maybe she does in more than just our minds.

Merry Christmas Mom! Hope you stop by again next year.


1 comment:

  1. Billy, That was priceless. Your Mom was so special. Aunt Gert will always have a special place in my heart.
    Love cousin Suzie XXX