I received it from my Father’s sister after her death–a small humpback trunk that my Aunt always referred to as “Mother’s trunk”.
That meant that it had belonged to my Grandmother. I paid little attention to it after a brief look inside. Letters, clippings, books. I closed the trunk promising myself that I would go through it one day soon. Days turned into weeks, then months and years. The still unopened trunk occupied a corner of my bedroom. It followed me through two moves into other states always beckoning me but finding itself last on my list of priorities. Until today.
As I opened the trunk I wondered just what I might find inside. The first thing that caught my eye was an envelope addressed to my Grandmother. Inside was a handwritten letter expressing love and appreciation for my Grandmother who had been “like a mother” to the person who wrote the letter. The kind and loving words touched my heart. “She must have been a loving person,” I thought. There were more letters expressing love towards her. She truly was lovable and loving.
Several pieces of yellowed newspaper clippings lay crumpled among other letters. I carefully choose one and smoothed it out. It was a poem and there were other poems, some humorous and many inspirational and uplifting. Many of them paid homage to Jesus Christ. My Grandmother loved poetry and was a woman of faith. The things I was learning about her made me feel close to this woman I had never met.
There were other articles–recipes, tips for house cleaning, cures for colds and even for cancer. She was interested in a variety of subjects just as women of today are. Another insight.
Among the many photographs, I discovered one of her. A handsome woman with long hair in a bun, unsmiling (as was the custom in those days), square face, firm jaw line.
This was my Grandmother–a woman who gave birth to 11 children, 10 of whom survived; who found time even with all of her responsibilities to enjoy poetry and to give of herself to others. All this I learned from the trunk.
As I thought about it I realized it was quite possible that this trunk belonged to her Mother, my great Grandmother, who traveled across the country to Tennessee then came to Texas in a covered wagon and settled in the county in which I was born. Suddenly I saw myself as part of a long line of women stretching back in time who faced life with brave determination, enduring hardships, succeeding at the tasks that lay before them, rearing children with love and wisdom.
Last February my Grandson and his wife gave birth to their first baby making me a great grandmother for the first time. When I hold that precious little girl in my arms I see her as part of those women from the past. I am a part of her just as they are a part of me and she and I are a part of women yet to be born–a continuing line of women reaching from the distant past into the distant future. Women bringing courage, hope, faith and love into a hurting world.
Sophie Drew Culpepper