Meg ran her hand over the smooth oak veneer. Her fingers caressed the intricate woodwork as she knelt down in front of the wood chest. Flattening her hand, she pushed her fingers between the ornately scalloped wood and the faded gray of what used to be multi-colored Nichol’s rug. Wiggling her fingers, she willed them to find the key she knew was there. Finally, she made contact with cool metal and she withdrew the small key that would open the Lane hope chest before her. Nana had told the story of the rug many times as Meg grew up. It had been a present; given to her on their wedding day by Paps. She used to make faces behind Nana’s back when she began telling it. How many time does a child have to listen to the same story over and over? The corner of her lip lifted as she closed her eyes. When she pressed them tight like this, she could almost her Nana’s alto voice reciting the story once again.
Meg leaned over, she placed one hand on the small round lock and began to insert the small key inside, the skin between her fingers registered the old key and she guided it in place. Slowly she turned…then froze. Should she be doing this? Meg felt as if she was breaking some holy vow. Her dark auburn hair flew into her eyes as she jerked her head around to the door in back of her.
No one was there. Nana would never be there again.
Turning around, she continued.
The strong scent of cedar surged from the chest and she lifted the lid, filling the room with its deep, rich aroma and her mind with a myriad of images from the past. Nana had told her once, that scent was the strongest scent. She had never believed her until now.
Meg’s eyes scanned the tightly packed treasures. An old christening gown from the ’30s. That must have been her mother’s. A purple heart and a bronze star on top of a picture of Paps in his WWII uniform.
Several newspapers were stacked in one corner. Each paper had a different date. Aug 17, 1943, the day of Nana and Pap’s wedding. Dec 7, 1941, proclaiming “1500 Dead at Pearl Harbor.” Three more, dated the day of her mother and uncle’s births… and last, May 23, 1972, Meg’s own birthday.
Finally, her eyes landed on the old worn Bible. Meg’s fingers lightly brushed the worn leather. The binding flaked. It had been read until there was almost nothing left. Memories of Paps sitting at the table pouring over the Word flashed across her mind. The Bible had disappeared after Paps had gone. Now Meg knew where it had gone.
A tingle pricked Meg’s nose and she unconsciously raised her hand to relieve the itch. It wasn’t until that moment that she realized she was crying.
The hope chest was full of more than age-old belongings; it was more than stored memories.
There in front of her, neatly stowed, was decades of love.