Cigar Box
Copyright © Erik Pennebaker, All rights reserved

In the big cardboard box holding all my grandpa's random photos and documents, there was a cigar box. Inside I found, carefully arranged to fit, a pipe, a stack of printed memorial cards from a funeral, some thick women's glasses (wrapped in cheesecloth for protection), a toy St Patrick's day pipe, a photo of Henry K. Bruck, and assorted other items. Everything seemed to be from his parents or their funerals although I couldn't be sure.

I imagined this must have been something he put together quite some time ago. Maybe in the fifties when his parents had both died it's contents became static for all time. He might have kept it tucked in the back of his closet. The glasses and pipe were things he must have seen his parents use often. They were personal things, not valuable things. They were things his parents touched and held, things they took for granted. Grandpa was certainly a collector of things, but I had to think this box was something entirely different, maybe his most cherished thing.

He might not have even opened this box for decades. Most of us don't bring out these things often, we simply want to know they're there. Once he began to get sick, memory might have been a fearsome thing, a thing not to directly engage or challenge. Maybe he never had a last chance to review it, to settle it one final time in his mind.

All guesswork of course. The pipe and glasses could have been unrelated trinkets, or maybe this was a treasure of one of his sisters, inherited when he was too far gone to even have looked at it.

What I can say for certain is, I'm glad eyeglasses have gotten lighter, cause it would have been hard to lift your head wearing these things.

[ tags: archive bruck family grandpa hank henry mystery notmine oldtimes ]

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