“I hate moving boxes. Brown... ugly... cheap...”
“What's she saying? She's delirious, I think. How much morphine is she on?” Paul looked around the room at those gathered at the four-poster, king-size bed that held the frail frame of his aged mother.
“Hush, Paul. I still have my hearing.” Magnolia Marie Turner struggled to pull herself to a sitting position. Faith rushed to add pillows for support and pull the down comforter around her grandmother.
“Quit fussing with me, child. I'm dying soon enough without being smothered in pillows and bedspreads!” Fire shot from steel-blue eyes divulging the spirit in an otherwise worn-out body.
“Mother! Who's talking about dying?” Paul stepped forward and put his arm around Faith who was sobbing quietly.
“Mrs. Maggie, can I getcha' anything? Some tea, perhaps?” Callie Mae had been the housekeeper for the Turners since they had moved into 'The Estate'.
“No, thank you, Callie Mae. Wait a minute...bring me my box.”
Callie Mae would never argue with Mrs. Maggie. What she asked for, she got. She had learned that early in her service to the aged couple. David Turner had passed away three years ago; from the looks of things, Mrs. Maggie wasn't far behind.
“Mother, you need your rest. You can do it later.”
“Sit down, Paul; I don't have later. You, too, Faith.”
Callie Mae set the small, brown moving box on the bed near Mrs. Maggie. “Do you want me to open it?'
“No. It's empty. But, I'm going to tell you about it.” Maggie smiled at the tattered old brown box. “It's full of my greatest treasures.”
“But, I thought...” Faith blurted with the impatience of youth, but was stopped short by her grandmother's hand on her arm.
“I've always hated moving boxes, what they represent. Oh, I guess they have their use, but somehow I see them more for what they don't hold instead of what they do. This box holds the unpack-ables.”
Maggie looked at Faith. “My first apartment... I was about your age. Before I knew David. My landlady used to bring me hot apple pies just out of the oven. That memory is packed in here. So is the memory of the first room I ever painted and the memory of my cat, Snowflake. I put those memories in here when everything else was boxed up.
“As newlyweds, David and I moved into a small house off Dunbar Street. We joined a church around the corner. That's where I came to know Jesus. That memory is in here. Oh, the fun we had in that cold, little house. Burned dinners, our first Christmas tree, lovemaking. Those memories are in here.
“We found out we were expecting a child and moved into a larger house in the city. You were born there, Paul. That memory is in here. All your firsts. Your first word, your first step. All in here. We struggled to make ends meet. Your puppy died and was buried there. The memory is in here.
“David got a job transfer and was promoted. We moved into a large home off Broad Street. We took everything along in brown moving boxes. Books, household items, clothes, lamps, dishes. I brought along my memory box. You started first grade and the bus picked you up in front of the house. That memory is in here. We had gay parties and Bridge Club meetings. Those memories are here. I found out I was expecting. When your sister died at birth, I stored away that memory as well.
“ It took so many brown moving boxes to get us moved into this, our dream house. By then, we had accumulated so much stuff. I brought this memory box with me and it's been put away for far too long.”
Maggie rested a moment and turned to Paul and Faith, tears silently spilling down her ashen cheeks. “Don't get all caught up in the things you can box up and take with you. It's just stuff. Make room for the priceless treasures of life. Every precious memory. Here, you can have the box now. I'm done with it.”
Paul reached and took the empty brown box. “You should keep it, Mother.”
“No...it's your turn to fill it.”
Maggie found all her memories awaiting her in her mansion where moth nor rust corrupt and thieves can't break in and steal.
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