You know you are in love when you cannot fall asleep because your reality is finally better than your dreams.” – Dr. Seuss
Somehow or another, my mother, father and I have become the keeper of old things. They find their way here in carefully sealed boxes, lovingly packed parcels. With or without notes. Sometimes they arrive cupped in warm hands.
The senders and bringers – they know we will care for them – whatever they are. 1950’s Boy Scout kerchiefs and pins. A U.S. Navy fatigue jacket worn to Vietnam – and back – by my favorite wise uncle. Just my size.
And most recently, a box of my grandfather’s most treasured belongings: his 1944 U.S. Navy flight wallet, certificate, pledge card, aviator wings, dog tags and a tangle of keys, pilot’s ID bracelet, mess hall punch card, and, best of all, a gorgeous image of his fiancé – my grandmother. The photo, clipped from the newspaper with its accompanying engagement announcement, is neatly folded and tucked into the wallet. It is creased and slightly worn – evidence that it has been there for a very long time.
My grandfather’s ID card shows a shy, handsome young man with auburn curls and piercing eyes. There is the curl of a smile at my grandfather’s lips. His girl’s photo is pressed firmly against his breast – adjacent to his heart – and was – for all the years after.
In my grandmother’s assisted living apartment nearly seventy years later, a portrait of that same shy, handsome young man with auburn curls and piercing eyes hangs – the focal point of the entire room. Each night she wheels her chair over to illuminate a blue lantern and gaze at her handsome groom – gone for some time now. Gone, but still very much here. For all those years.
It does exist, this brand of love.