When I was a child my mother carried a pocketbook everywhere, not unlike the Queen. It was always hard-sided and short-handled, and it opened or closed with a definite snap from the bear-trap closure of its metal toggle. No kid could get into that purse unnoticed, not if your mother had the kind of hearing that could locate your dog tiptoeing into the neighbor’s yard.
“GET BACK HERE!” she’d yell from the back porch, and Kiltie or Folly or Zipper would slink home, awed by the Human with Ears of a Bat.
But this isn’t about my mother’s ears; it’s about her pocketbook. It was as magical as Narnia, a land that could expand to fill any requirement a 5-year-old might have.
Our car for road trips from Michigan to Montana was always a Buick with a backseat the size of the USS Arizona. Sis and I could lie on the floor reading comics or sit on the seat and play Sorry, the board game spread out between us. Anything like a kiddy car-seat had yet to be dreamed of.
Inevitably we would get bored, and if we’d been good, up there in the front seat the magic pocketbook might open.
Blackjack or Clove Gum would appear, or Butter Rum Lifesavers. Adult-ish flavors that still had enough sugar to rocket us to the roof. Sometimes Mom had horehound which was a gut-wrenching disappointment, but if that happened there were usually restorative lemon drops, one for each of us. Maybe we’d get to play with her compact so we could powder our noses until we sneezed.
Often, we shared the pair of clip-on earrings she’d tucked in her pocketbook after they hurt her lobes. The pocketbook was a complete general store, always with Kleenex, Band-Aids, folding plastic rain bonnets and safety pins.
My mother has been gone for many years. Recently, Sis and I cleared out a whole pile of our own purses; apparently neither of us was ever capable of throwing one out when you could just as easily jam it back into a closet. At the bottom of the pile was an unassuming medium brown bag. You guessed it … one of Mom’s.
Her last one, in fact, an item we couldn’t discard but could, after the passing of time, forget. Sis opened it. All that was left inside was an ancient Avon Lip Balm and a spiral-bound Mead notebook, one about the dimensions of an index card. Inside Mom had copied down a verse that was written by Henry Van Dyke, 19th century American poet.
Her tiny, neat longhand read:
Time is too slow for those who wait,
Too swift for those who fear,
Too long for those who grieve,
Too short for those who rejoice.
But for those who love, time is Eternity.
I read those few simple lines. And just like that, I was transformed again to the days in the back seat when the best of magic would come to me from my mother’s pocketbook.
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 email@example.com.