Two Boxes

Two Boxes
In the past eight years, I lost both my parents, my mother in October 2007, and my father in January of this year. After my mom died, my father was able to go through some of her effects, but when he moved to a retirement home in early 2011, I started going through what remained in June. I gave things away, sold some of them, and donated most of what was left to charity. Of course I stored and transported all of it in boxes. I came to the last box in the shed in September of that same year. An earthquake in August threw some boxes to the dirt floor, and while most of the contents of the shed were unharmed, I was sure some of the contents of those boxes were broken. When I opened the final box, it was full of china dishes. They were broken, of course. I started to throw the whole box away, but something told me to look through it to see if anything of value were there.

There certainly was something of value inside the box: a small silver egg cup from Japan. I had never seen it before and my mother never mentioned it to me, which was unusual for her. She always told us about special objects she owned but somehow missed this one.

I surmised that my uncle gave her the cup as a gift. He fought in the Korean War and I know that he returned through Japan. It only made sense that he could have picked up the cup there. He brought my brother and me jackets with stylized dragons over a map of Japan as well, so that makes a strong case for the egg cup coming from Japan.

I saw this discovery as my mother’s final message to me from beyond. I had several others, including a butterfly at her grave in October, but this was the only one involving an object.

I don’t know if my father’s recent message to me is his final one, but it could be. In November, he was admitted to a local hospital where he was given a plastic bag for his clothes. I didn’t pay much attention to what he was wearing, so I didn’t know what was in the bag.

His condition improved enough that, after spending Christmas in the hospital, he was sent to a rehab center in Fairfax for about ten days. After his condition deteriorated he was sent to one of the largest hospitals in the region where his condition steadily declined. He passed away the third week in January. We had a beautiful and meaningful funeral for him.
I was executor of his estate, but our daughters Amy and Alyssa and their husbands, Chris and Chris, did all the heavy lifting, including preparing Dad’s house for sale and selling it. I did little besides approve their decisions and sign my name to what seemed like hundreds of documents.

We thought we wrapped up the estate in September, but last week we received a call from the rehab center where he spent about ten days between hospitals. They had a bag with his possessions in it. I thought we had taken care of everything he owned, but there was one more item. We went by the center and I waited at the nurses’ station for a housekeeper. She came pushing a cart with a box on top. I had no idea what was in it. I looked inside and saw it was the bag from the first hospital. Apparently it didn’t make the trip to the second hospital, but by that time he wore hospital gowns and didn’t need anything else. I took a quick look inside the box but couldn’t tell much about it other than there was a bag inside.

When I got home I knelt on the floor and went through the bag. I pulled out a leather jacket, shirt, pants, underwear, socks, shoes and a belt. Nothing too unusual there, but as I took the pants out I felt a weight in one of the pockets. I took it out and found his wallet. I think this was his valediction to me much as the egg cup was my mother’s.

Some might say these gifts to me were mere coincidences, but I don’t think so. That’s why I now keep the wallet on my computer desk, right beside the egg cup. And I now use the wallet every day. Thanks for the presents, Mom and Dad.

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