Ancient History

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“Whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, let your mind dwell on these things.” — Phil. 4:8

Today would have been my Grandma Mary’s 79th birthday. She embodied loveliness. Had she been sitting with Aidan and I at the American Girl Cafe we would have agreed the one word best describing her is lovely. She would have smiled and thanked us.

She was happy, generous, and friendly. Her obituary mentioned she never met a stranger. Everyone who encountered her walked away feeling better somehow because she always had a kind word, a hug, encouragement. I never once heard her speak badly about another person, except for any opposing team’s quarterback when he faced the Broncos.

After she died and family was gathered in her home we began looking through her things. A large trunk stood at the foot of her bed for years and nobody could figure out how to open it. Every key found was tried, including keys obviously too big or too small. We were about to give up when I tried pushing the lock with my finger. We heard a pop and the lid rose an inch. What would we find?

Christmas stockings from my mom’s childhood. Exquisite baby clothes and children’s pajamas. A beautiful kimono, blankets, and a newspaper from Honolulu dated December 7th, 1941. In between the soft linens and clothing we found a plate. I turned it over. I made it when I was five and gave it to her for Christmas. It didn’t look like it had been used. She kept it in her trunk, hidden away with my grandfather’s baby book and his wallet. The plate shared cedar with family photos and letters nearly a century old. I wanted to cry. perfect for serving a cheeseburger and fries

The plate features someone resembling a deranged hillbilly Ronald McDonald. I remember drawing it on a round piece of paper. My mom sent it off to a company which printed it onto the plate.

I have no memory of how Grandma Mary reacted to the plate on Christmas morning, 1976. Seeing my mom and my mother-in-law interact with our kids, I have the feeling she was amused and delighted.

It never made it to her china hutch or onto a table set for Thanksgiving. That is okay with me.

I know she treasured it because it was with her treasures—worth little monetarily but all lovely in their own way.

Finding the plate was a gift. It confirmed what I knew—she loved me and I loved her and now the plate is mine again. If you ever come over to my house for dinner and see it hanging on the kitchen wall, don’t let it ruin your appetite.

It’s lovely.

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