I grew up with a father and a godfather who went to sea. That was their world and their profession – chief engineer and captain respectively – Norwegians who broke from the farm and sought the greater world. I was the only child and only godchild who then reaped the bounty of the main, the recipient of wondrous treasures from their journeys abroad.
One special memento from Norman, who treated me as the daughter he never had, was a box of carved ivory and tortoise shell – lovely, delicate and exotic. A magic box, a cache of wonder for a seven year old to secrete away elements of enchantment.
I do not know the origin and provenance of my childhood reliquary but it has held over the years, many pieces of my heart. At times there were sand dollars and sea shells, imaginary incantations scribbled upon magnolia leaves, a mumbo-jumbo crystal talisman, or a treasured note from “the boy.”
Today it contains my grandmother Marie’s pocket watch and wedding ring, a necklace (also from my godfather) of the Southern Cross constellation, a pin that says “carpe diem” (magic words from my youth), an antique pendant of lapis lazuli, my Brownie pin from second grade, my father’s medals from the war, a Mother’s Day poem written by my daughter, Noelle, a gift tag channeling the Tin Man from Oz from my son, Kevin, and a small envelope which reads: “Dear tooth fairy: if your real or not thank you for the money. From Sean.”
It always makes me smile to read our first grandson’s penciled words. I can feel the teeny tooth through the paper and I couldn’t love him more.
Happy Birthday to our Sean.