When people recall their childhoods, they often use diaries if their own memories are dependable as sieves. Or photo albums, of course. Some people collect a wrinkle for every worry or a battle scar for each fight over the car keys on Saturday nights.
But for me, I collected charms on a silver bracelet. I like to hold them in my hand, feel the memories they hold. I don’t know if the present generation of girls gathers these little mementos symbolizing every place she goes, or anything she wants to be, or any pet she ever owned.
A Sterling silver collie charm represents my first dog and oh! how beloved she was. A downhill skier has fewer bruises than I ever had from the sport. There’s the silver trumpet from my high school band days. A Hawaiian pineapple, a Williamsburg carriage, an Alaskan totem pole, a sewing machine for an art I never mastered. A lifetime in silver.
I recently decided it was time to ‘thin the herd’ in my jewelry box, the one that belonged to my mother many years ago. This is a chore I haven’t done in years, make that decades. And there it was: this little puddle of silver at the bottom of the chaos. I haven’t looked at it for years. But it sparkles still. A woodland cabin, camping trailer, Gettysburg canon. A galloping horse, Blue Beard’s Castle, an art pallet, SLR camera, Mackinac Bridge, San Francisco cable car, Glacier grizzly … Each tiny bit of metal brings a smile and a nice fat memory to run around my brain.
If I had kept collecting into my adulthood, what more would the bracelet links have to hold? Certainly, a Michigan State Spartan. A Chicago pizza slice. Maybe a martini glass. A book to represent my writing, more places I’ve seen around the world, many more dogs, and a typewriter for my husband. A comedy/tragedy duet for the chaos that is life in general.
So … what to do with this item, recollections on a chain? I don’t have a daughter, and I won’t burden my niece with it (literally — all these charms are pretty heavy). I could sell it for scrap, but sterling is not much of an investment these days. There is only one person in the world who finds any value in this old banjo charm, or the faith, hope, and charity trio, or the graduation mortar board.
I think that one-person-in-the-world will keep these little recollections in the place where valuables belong. I will carefully put my past back in the box, close the lid, and hope the next person who opens it will feel a fleeting bit of the life it holds dear.
Linda B. Myers is a founding member of Olympic Peninsula Authors. Her newest historical novel, “Dr. Emma’s Improbable Happenings,” is available at Port Book and News, One of a Kind Gallery, and on Amazon.com. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.