Thursday, February 7, 2013

Treasure Chest Thursday: Grandma's Jewelry Box

This jewelry box belonged to my paternal grandmother, Nealie Drake Tapley.  It's not fancy or grand or expensive; it's just an ordinary jewelry box.  Except that it is in no way ordinary to me... besides the fact that it belonged to a grandmother I never got a chance to know, the how I got it makes it very extraordinary.

My grandmother passed away when I was 3 years old.  I only have one memory of her.  Mom took me to visit her at her apartment in Augusta, and she gave me a cookie.  Being 3, she seemed very tall.  That's all I remember.

When I was in elementary school, about age 9 or 10, my father's brother, Dempsey, lived with us.  My Uncle Dempsey was good to me, and we were very close; however, he was known to not just stretch the truth... he would downright lie.  He and his wife had divorced some years earlier, and he claimed that she had kept everything he had that had belonged to their mother, Grandma Nealie.  Fast forward 2-3 years and Uncle Dempsey abruptly moved out.  He left behind some things in a storage barn we had.  I remember one afternoon, while I was practicing the piano, Daddy, for whatever reason, went into that storage barn and found items that were Uncle Dempsey's, but had once belonged to Grandma.  Even at that young age, family history and heirlooms were important to me.  Daddy brought the items in and told me what he had found.  I was outraged.  I was hurt.  I was so disappointed in my uncle.

I don't know to this day what it was in my reaction that led my father to do what he did next.  Daddy gave me Grandma's Bible and her jewelry box, which had several pieces of her (costume) jewelry in it and told me I could keep them.  And I have.  I don't know if he ever said anything to Uncle Dempsey.  I am sure my uncle would have never asked even if he noticed the items missing.  I mean, what could he say?  But that one moment in which my father "got" me; understood my anger and hurt; and made the decision to give his daughter a piece of his mother... that is probably the greatest gift he ever gave me and the best thing he ever did for me. 

So this seemingly ordinary jewelry box is priceless to me. 

1 comment:

  1. That is a really touching story. It's amazing that you are able to know her, in a sense, through the meaningful things you inherited from her. I'm sure that jewelry box will be in the family for quite some time. My grandma just passed away and left a lot of her jewelry behind. The meaningful pieces were distributed to the siblings that had a special memory of them. However, there are a lot of pieces that I don't think she ever wore. I think that's a little bit of her shopaholic personality showing through.