Drawer of Memories
(By Melissa O. Markham)
Angela, her mother began, "let's plan something really special for your 16th birthday. Why I remember my sweet sixteen party ..."
Stop it, Mom! Please just stop it! Angela wailed , clenching her fists as she fought back tears. "I've already told you, without Dad here, I don't want to celebrate my birthday!"
Now look here, young lady. You do not speak to me in that tone of voice, Barbara said. She added softly, "I know how much you miss your dad. We all do, but he'd want you to celebrate this important day."
We don't know what he wants! He's dead! After running up the stairs and slamming her bedroom door, Angela threw herself across the bed and sobbed.
It's so unfair! Why did it have to be my dad? Why couldn't it have been someone else's dad? Like that horrible Sarah Jennings ... No, no, I don't really mean that. But why Dad? Why did he have to go into work that day anyway? He knew the roads were bad, but he just had to go. Mom should've stopped him, but she said he'd be fine. She lied!
Angela rolled over, and tears slid down her freckled cheeks. The doorbell rang. Muffled voices drifted up, and then her mother called out, "Angela, Sandy's here to see you."
Angela jumped up. She wiped angrily at her wet eyes before heading downstairs. I don't want Sandy to know I've been crying, she thought. She'll go and blab to everyone at school.
Angela attempted a smile when she saw Sandy. "Hi Sandy. What's up?"
Hey Angela. I'm going to the mall to shop and maybe see a movie. You want to come? Sandy asked cheerfully.
Angela looked down at the floor and answered, "Gee Sandy, that sounds like fun, but Mom wants me to clean up the garage."
Now Angela, the garage can wait, her mom interjected .
No, Mom, I have to do it. It's my responsibility. Maybe some other time, Sandy. Have fun, okay?
Angela hurried back up to her room. She sat in her window seat watching her friend leave.
How could Sandy think I would be interested in shopping or a movie? Nobody understands! Everybody expects me to continue on, business as usual. It's only been two months since Dad died. Has everyone else forgotten him?
As Barbara was getting into her car she sadly looked up at Angela's window. Angela ducked out of sight until her mother was gone.
I don't know why she even bothers to go to the beauty shop now.Maybe she just wants to impress her friends at lunch.
Angela decided to go work in the garage. Her father's presence filled every shadowy corner. She could even catch a faint whiff of his cologne. A row of birdhouses lined the workbench. Some were not yet complete. Angela decided to finish one and place it in the tree next to her father's grave.
Bending down to get some paints from under the bench, something unusual caught her eye. Angela pulled a soft cloth off of a beautiful walnut jewelry chest with glass doors. She carefully opened them to reveal four drawers lined in red velvet. In the bottom drawer lay an envelope addressed to her in her father's handwriting. Angela held it to her cheek, then opened it. Several small pieces of paper drifted to the floor, but Angela ignored them, anxious to read the letter inside.
Happy 16th birthday. I wish for you success that will enable you to fill this chest with the rarest of gems .
But no matter how many or how precious the jewels are that you store in this chest, none will be as valuable as memories. So always keep a drawer of memories to help you through the low times. I have put some of my favorite memories in this drawer. Some of them I have shared with you, some of them I would like to share with you, and some memories cannot be shared.
I hope you will add to the memories in this drawer. As long as it is full you will always be wealthy.
With shaking fingers, Angela opened each small piece of paper. The neatly printed words overwhelmed her senses with memories. She could hear leaves crackling underfoot as she and her father walked through the mountains in autumn. The sound of rain drumming on their summer cabin's tin roof filled her ears. She could smell the cedar they had gathered for the mantle at Christmas and the flowers they had picked in the spring. She could taste ice-cold water from a mountain stream. She savoured the hotdogs from their favorite lunch spot. She saw frost glittering in the light of a golden harvest moon while her father drove her to a camp. She saw the wild beauty of the Shenandoah River as she and her father floated along.She felt the wind caressing her cheek as they looked down from a mountaintop. She recalled her father's story of walking to school, five miles, barefoot, at night, in the snow, carrying his little sister on his back. It was the story he always used when she complained too much.
Angela felt her father's presence emanating from the words she held. She now realized that even though he was gone, he would always be with her. Angela decided that the first memory she would add to the drawer would be about her upcoming birthday. She would have her friends over and celebrate, just the way her father would have wanted.
Angela heard her mother's car pull up outside. She clutched the chest tightly and walked into the sunny day to meet her mother.