Beams of sunlight shone through the window of the small attic as Patty sat on the dusty floor. Cobwebs floated gently overhead as her hand rested on the suitcase in front of her. Her thoughts drifted to the past….
“What are you doing in the attic, Patty?”
“I found this luggage full of old stuff and thought we could donate some of it to the youth ministry garage sale.”
“Oh, honey, there are so many stories to be told from this “old stuff.”
“What do you mean?”
“Let’s see.” Momma picked up a pretty white shirt with a brown stain on it. “This is the shirt I was wearing the night I met your father. I noticed him standing …almost hiding…in the shadows staring at me at the homecoming dance. I got in line behind him at the snack bar, and when he turned around, he was so startled that I was standing right behind him, he jumped and spilled his drink on me. He made a fool out of himself trying to wipe off my shirt.” She burst out laughing as she remembered the look of sheer terror on his face. “I just couldn’t bring myself to wash the shirt. I wanted it to always remind me of the night we met.”
Patty’s mother pulled out a little pink dress. “This was yours when you were a baby. It was the dress I bought for your first portrait.”
“Wow! And you kept it all these years?!”
“Of course, and I have at least one item with a special memory attached to it in here for every year I give thanks to God for you. When you have children of your own, you will be able to share the memories with them, too.”
“What’s this?” Patty pulled out a blue, infant night gown.
Her mother gently took the little gown from Patty and smoothed out every pucker until it lay perfectly across her lap. For a few short moments, she said nothing as she gathered her thoughts and tears formed in her eyes.
“This was bought for your brother.”
Patty was speechless. She never knew she had a brother.
“I’m sorry I never told you. I guess I just wanted to pack those memories away for safekeeping in this old luggage.”
“Can you tell me now?” Patty could see the struggle going on in her mother’s face.
“Paul was born two years before you. When I went into labor, your father rushed me to the hospital. He was the classic, basket-case father-to-be. By the time we got to the hospital, my contractions were very intense and coming one after the other. The nurses rushed me straight into the delivery room and told me not to push because the doctor wasn’t there yet. By the time he arrived, Paul had already aspirated and had fluid in his lungs. Your father and I prayed so hard that he would be okay. They kept him in intensive care for three days and then his tiny, little lungs collapsed. I’m so sorry I never told you before this, dear.”
“It’s okay, Momma. I understand. It would have been nice to know, but I can’t say that I would have done it any different if it were me.”
Patty’s mother quickly folded up the infant gown and placed it back into the suitcase. As she closed the lid, she said, “I think I have had enough memories for one day. But I guess you can see why I can’t bear to part with this ‘stuff’.”
“Yes, ma’am, I think I do.”
A bird fluttered against the attic window bringing Patty back to the present.
Her mother was finally reunited with Paul and Patty’s father in heaven. She opened the suitcase and noticed the pink dress, white shirt, and blue infant gown neatly folded on top.
“Momma must have been going through these things not too long ago,” she thought to herself.
Patty began to cry gently as she pictured her mother’s aged hands smoothing out the puckers of the little, blue nightgown in her lap one last time. She took her mother’s Bible and lovingly placed it next to her dad’s favorite slippers.
“This will tell the best story of them all,” she thought and closed the lid.
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