Message in a Box

  • June 18, 2018
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On one of our visits to Germany, a woman my mother hardly remembered asked that we visit her in a nursing home. My mother wasn’t interested, but the woman insisted, saying she had something for us. 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 had only a vague recollection of the box.

Last week, she gave it to me. I carefully examined it, with its 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. When she was a child, she and her family would spend happy Sundays in the nearby nature preserve where Mom would chase the wild peacocks.