On one of our visits to the small German town my mother fled as an unaccompanied minor in 1938, a woman my mother hardly remembered asked that we visit her in her nursing home. My mother wasn’t interested, but the woman insisted, saying she had something she absolutely had to give to my mother.
Finally, we stopped by her home, and she presented Mom with this box. “Before your mother was forced to leave her home in the 1930s,” the woman said, “she gave me this box, handmade by one of your ancestors. I kept it for you all these years.” Mom vaguely remembered it.
Mom recently gave me the box. I carefully examined it, with its intricate inlay of different woods and a fading image on the top.
“Mom,” I asked, “Did you ever notice the image on the top of the box?”
“No,” she said, “not really.”
“It’s a peacock!” I told her.
That image felt like a message in a bottle. Mom fondly remembers the Sundays her family spent walking in the nearby nature preserve. Mom would joyously chase the wild peacocks.
I tell the story of our trips to my mother’s small home town, Stockstadt am Rhein, in my memoir, MOTHERLAND.
Link to book: https://www.amazon.com/Mother…/dp/0140286233/ref=sr_1_1…