Wow. All this emotional cleaning is---well, emotional. The closets and clothes are one thing, but oh my goodness, the little trinkets you save! Its been a journey of a lifetime right there in my bedroom!
The items are too many to even begin to recount them, but I'm sure you all have things in your jewelry box or some other container that you kept because it truly meant so much it just couldn't go away right then. humph...and that was when? Yes, as I perused the little boxes and jars that held so many cherished memories, I was chagrined to find many items had lost their cherished status, in fact, many were complete mysteries! If nothing else, I have resolved to check those little treasure boxes more often in the future!
However, I did run across one little memento that I remembered well, a small Scottish Shortbread tin that truly makes my heart swell even now.
Many years ago I was a part time waitress at a local restaurant called Zorro's. It was a small Greek Mom and Pop place, off the beaten path, but pretty busy due to its renowned homey atmosphere. I loved working there! I once waited on the popular group The Monkee's, their families included and another time Rod Serling (of Twilight Zone fame)! Heady stuff in our small town!
One night a couple came in and asked if I was the famous red head of Zorro's? I answered without even blushing, "Yep, that would be me". Seems some relatives of theirs from the DC area had told them to stop at Zorro's and ask for the redhead. I was more than happy to show them to a table and because the place was so relaxed, I sat right down and we began a conversation.
They were the Galloways from Scotland. I can't remember his name, but she was Pamela. We talked for some time, even as I took their order and warmed up coffee for other guest. It wasn't long before those other guest migrated over to sit near the Galloways and listen to them regale us about their travels and life in Scotland. She had almost pink hair, that odd shade that comes when a true redhead turns gray. Her accent was fascinating, so true and cultured that it was like sitting in somebody's kitchen in Scotland.
Soon Steve, the owner of the restaurant joined us. His deep Greek accent combined with her Scottish burr made the evening seem like a worldly adventure. The Galloways had been to Greece and Steve had been to Scotland. One of the other guest had been to Ireland, and I'm Irish. It was a lovely evening, a potpourri of strangers gathered and sharing stories.
Finally Mr. Galloway excused himself to use the phone in the back. Pamela said he was calling their friends in D.C. to let them know they would be there in about three days. They left soon after, leaving behind many new friends.
That wasn't all they left though. Later as I cleaned up before closing I found an address book on top of the phone in the back. I was distraught to see that it belonged to the Galloways. I began leafing through it and found that it was a journal as well. The names of people from places all over the world were annotated with dates and special memories. Here and there names were preceded by Aunt or Cousin, while others were followed by a date and the sad note, RIP. Some names didn't have an address or even a phone number, but said things like "Delightful young man-tour guide in Argentina" or "Lovely young lady-excellent service in London".
I realized that this was her life, her past kept neatly inscribed in a small book. I had to find a way to be sure they got this little book back! I searched the addresses and found several people listed in and around D.C. and just called the first one on the list. It turned out to be a friend of the people the Galloways were planning to visit in a few days. She gave me the correct name and address of the family. I called them to let them know I was sending the address book to them and asked that they please see that they got it as soon as they arrived.
I left that night feeling good about myself. I had done a good deed and knew that the Galloways would be grateful.
About two months later I received a package postmarked from Scotland. I knew it must be from the Galloways! I can't tell you how excited I was! The package contained a small tin of Scottish Shortbread and the most endearing note I have ever seen. In short, she said that she was so happy to have her address book restored to her after her dunderhead husband had so stupidly left it behind. She went on to say that it was a good thing she loved him so much, else she would be forced to knock him in the head!
It didn't end there. Every Christmas from then on I received a beautiful Christmas card from her, her salutation something along the lines of "To a sweet little Irish lass who saved my address book from my dunderhead husband" and signed "With everlasting fondness". After some ten years the cards stopped coming. I wrote to her husband, and found that she had passed away. I grieved her as much as I would a close relative, but celebrated the gift of her friendship.
Because I cherished her friendship and in her honor, I started a little practice that I still maintain. When ever I know a young person graduating from high school or College, or a young couple getting married, I include an address book in their gift. I fill in my name and address, and others they may know, if they are friends or relatives. I always include a note telling them about Pamela Galloway and how she kept her life in her address book and they should do the same. I tell them that in the years to come, they will open that little book and remember the people and places they have been, and while they can't even imagine that time, it will come.
Now that I am older I sometimes get an unexpected card or letter from some of those people. They are always wonderful to receive, usually just letting me know they are living somewhere far away, or just got a new job, or any number of little things. But they always say thanks for the address book and that they have come to understand what a treasure the memories stored in that little book are.
So, one thing will be staying in my collection of treasures, a little black and white and red tin that once held Scottish Shortbread. Thanks Pamela!