Think back to your childhood. Did your house have a “drawer?” You know the kind… it was almost sacred. Completely forbidden from prying young hands unless supervised by an adult. Within it, all the family treasures were kept. Everything meaningful, valuable, or remotely important was shut up in that drawer. Well… when I was a child, we had two of those drawers. And from whatever threats or warnings my childhood mind has forgotten, I always knew to treat those drawers with the upmost reverence.
The first drawer held my mother’s nice jewelry. Among other things, her engagement ring and first wedding band were there. I remember always being fascinated by them. (I mean they’re gorgeous and I’m definitely partial to all the little details in the setting!) I’d try them on occasionally or just open the box, very sneakily of course, to look at them. But in all my years of admiring those rings, I don’t have any stories attached to them. Not that I remember anyway. In fact, I don’t even know how my dad proposed. (I should probably find that out sometime.) No matter how precious and important those rings are, I’m lacking a lot of information about them.
Now the other drawer is a different story. If I was respectful of the “nice jewelry” drawer, it was probably because I was afraid of getting in trouble, but the other drawer… that one was special. That drawer held the really precious objects. Inside were mementoes from my parents wedding. Newspaper articles announcing the wedding, a memory book, even foil stamped napkins from the event. But most importantly, their wedding album was inside that drawer. For whatever reason, I was always drawn to that book. To my childhood mind, it was massive. Heavy, with thick gilded pages and gold metal corners. Larger than life photos showed unknown versions of the people I saw regularly. And most importantly, there were stories attached to those images.
Every time that album came out and it’s vellum page protectors were turned, there were new stories. My parents talked about the people that were in the photos. Sometimes the stories weren’t even related to the wedding, they were just memories triggered by seeing a certain person in the photo. They talked about the clothing they wore. (That white suit is still in my dad’s closet. No word on whether or not it fits.) They talked about their honeymoon, cut short by a hurricane, and how they gave their St. Bernard dog the champagne that the hotel had gifted them. It was apparently pretty funny to witness… No matter what image they turned to, it seemed they always had a story or comment to go with it. (The one of the cake cutting generated a particularly interesting story, but you’ll just have to wonder what it was!)
Because of that wedding album, not only have I been able to witness something that took place 12 years before I was even alive, but I’ve also heard countless stories about people, places, and events I never would have encountered otherwise. Most importantly, I got to see my parent’s be something other than “my parent’s.” I saw part of their story in those photos. I got to see what was important to them through the images they picked for their album. I saw and heard what they remembered about that time in their lives.
Today is their 42nd wedding anniversary. 42 years since those moments happened, yet we can still open “The Drawer” and relive them whenever we’d like. I’m so glad they cared about their wedding album. I’m glad they cherished the memories held in those images. Without that album, a big portion of what I know of my parent’s story would be missing. Today, because it was important to them, it’s become important to me too. So thank you, mom and dad, for preserving your story and for telling us about your memories. I promise to cherish them as much as you have. (And happy anniversary!)
“The greatest gift in life is to be remembered.” -Ken Venturi
I love you guys!