Consider the things you hold most dear – the objects, the relationships, the principles, the beliefs.
For me, three of the objects I hold most dear are a Valentine card from Mona, a 15-inch-long painted stick and the finial, or bed knob, off a bedframe post.
The card shows a cat snuggling up to a Chihuahua with the inscription inside: “In our own weird way, we work.” It’s signed “Love you, Cupcake.” How that card captures who we were as a couple; how it captures who Mona was as a person – sweet, simple, understated, effective. Thoughtful, too. Friends know she rarely bought a gift or sent a card without thinking what would mean the most or help the most.
As for the stick, there never was any conscious effort to keep it. It just ended up in a catchall drawer at our new house when we moved South Buncombe in 1997. There was never any doubt, though, that it would be preserved. In the little brick rancher in Haw Creek from which we moved, it had propped open the window over the kitchen sink to provide some air before friends, the Barretts I believe, passed along a window AC unit.
Now, that stick is a link to memories of that home on West Maple, some still shared with others, some now mine alone. It’s a link to the memory of calling Granny and Pa to come sit with Neal after Mona’s water broke two days after Christmas in 1996. A few hours later, sometime between 1 and 2 a.m. on December 28, Graham was born. It’s a link to that afternoon Mona came home from the obstetrician’s late in her fourth month of pregnancy, took me aside, and told me the baby was dead. Now, that memory and the memory of that dreadful snowy drive late one night to the hospital for Mona to deliver our dead daughter are mine alone.
The knob off the top of the bedpost? Well, that’s the ball that comes off the staircase post as George Bailey rushes up to kiss and hug his kids toward the end of It’s A Wonderful Life. Once seen as a symbol of personal failure, he excitedly kisses the knob before putting it back, now a symbol of home, family, friends and hope.
I don’t know how many times I repaired that bedframe, how many times I glued that finial back in place, how many times getting in or out of bed it popped off again and rolled across the floor. Fortunately it did so one last time last year when the old frame was replaced and taken away. When I leave this home in a year or two, it will be my link to the many memories here, the last home we shared together. – David Cornwell