It’s been a while since I’ve written anything new here. I’ve been through a lot these past few months: turning forty, going back to the Philippines for the first time in twenty three years, jet-lagging for two weeks upon returning home while trying to catch up with work, and helping with preparations for my brother’s April wedding. Most of it has been good, but still kept me quite occupied.
Then last week I saw an item in the newspaper about how to will family heirlooms that are more sentimental than valuable. At the end, readers were invited to Instagram photos in answer to the question, “What is precious in your family?”
What, indeed? What matters most to me? What would I try to save from, say, a house fire (touch wood)? Picture albums? Framed photos? My mom’s red Spanish shawl? Her jewellery? My dad’s letters from Don Alvaro?
I couldn’t decide.
Then today, after a long FaceTime session with my future sister-in-law, ironing out wedding details, my mom opened the Trunk in search of a few things that could perhaps be incorporated into the ceremony: the cord and veil from her wedding, the prayer book my grandmother carried at her (second) wedding, arras coins from my great-grandmother.
There are other things in the Trunk: my mom’s wedding dress and shoes, the baby layette, the white blanket she made to wrap her newborn babies in, coming home from the hospital. My mom’s first birthday party dress is in there too, along with all our First Communion dresses and suits, and the christening gown my siblings and I (and most recently, my nephew) were baptized in. It’s still good as new, ready for the next baby whenever he or she arrives.
Looking at the contents of The Trunk, now I know what matters most in my family. Not these old things, exactly, but the memories and traditions they keep safe in their yellowed and faded folds. These are the roots that give me wings.