The Old Brown Coat Box
by Jim Nasium

We walked up the steps, one at a time, slowly making our way to her room. She knew that I didn't really want to be doing this, and that I had other things I would much rather be doing. She told me that she only wanted me for a little while, and that she needed me to get something for her, something she couldn't reach by her self. She kept on telling me that it would only take me a few minutes, and that she needed me, so I followed her.

She took me to the bigger of the two closets in her bedroom and she open the doors, and then pointed to the shelf, up near the light bulb hanging on the ceiling, that had a string hanging from it to turn it on and off, and said, "get me that coat box." The old brown coat box was still there, buried under hat boxes and shoe boxes, right where she had put it so many years ago. it had been years and years since I last even thought about it. It was the same big brown coat box that the coat, my father bought for her, back in 1952 came in. I could reach the shelf, no problem because I was a full twelve inches taller than my mother, now... so I moved some shoe boxes, and some hat boxes to take the big brown coat box covered with dust, down from the upper shelf of the bedroom closet, and the years that have past since last it was open, have been far too many...

Carefully my mother wipes the years of dust from the top of the box, in a gentle, loving motion with the rag she held in her hand. I am sure that she knew that I really didn't want to be doing this, but that I was doing it just for her... and as she wiped the dust from the box, she looked up at me and said... "I wonder who'll be wiping the dust from this box next time it is opened?" I looked into her eyes and told her that I hoped it would be her, and that the time between now, and the next time we open the box, wouldn't be so long as it has been this time" and she smiled.

To her, and well to me to, the old brown coat box is a treasure chest of sorts, you see it is where my mother keeps her old photos, and over the years the collection has grown. She keeps her "good" photos [as she calls them] neatly tucked away in a photo album, like most folks do, but her "old" photos [as she calls them] are all thrown in this old brown coat box!

We sat there, she on the corner of her bed, me on the floor, looking through the hundreds of old photos that are kept in the big brown coat box. The early years of my youth and my golden teenage years, all laid out before me in a black and white collage of memories. The afternoon sun, shinning in through the icy window, warmed us as the time pasts us by. Before we knew it, we had looked at each one of the "old" photos, and she had told me a story about each one of them as we looked at it...

Carefully we reorganized the photos and replaced them, in the big brown coat box, and agreed that we should do this again soon. As I was putting the box back on the upper shelf in the closet, I looked down and over at my Mother, who was now walking down the hall, and I knew that she was happy... and that made me happy.

Later, when I finished up some of the work I had to do that day in my third floor studio, I went down stairs to the kitchen, to make myself a pot of fresh ground coffee, my mother was sitting at the counter, just looking out the window towards the back yard at new garage I just built for her this summer, and she turned to me and said, this is the best xmas I have had in a long time...

©2000 Jim Nasium

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