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The Hidden Treasure In Genevieve's Closet

After my ninety-seven-year-old grandmother passed, my husband and I worked to clean out her house for a potential buyer. Growing up during the depression, she had great difficulty throwing anything away. My grandmother had mobility issues in her later years that prevented her from spending much time downstairs.Consequently, the basement looked like a grocery store mixed with a charity shop. The long row of shelves that covered half of the wall were stacked high with expired groceries. Six cabinets over poured with glassware including indented scalloped-edged plates to hold the matching hand painted tea cups. There were rows of gaudy, orange and yellow floral patterned narrow glasses from the 1960’s, boxy Christmas coffee mugs depicted wintry scenes from the 1980’s and green-tinted Coca-Cola soda glasses.Every weekend we worked for hours in her basement, sorting through bright popcorn tins full of tangled embroidery floss, dusty boxes of gift bags, and lacy sachets of her homemade potpourri. A floor to ceiling cabinet held skeins of yarn in every color and we discovered an antique microscope complete with slides that had to weigh at least twenty pounds.My father had warned me that family members from all corners of the country had been in the house before us, rooting through her possessions like looters. They hadn’t touched the basement but her bedroom and living room had been ransacked. Specific paperweights that she had promised me as a child were long gone. Pieces of furniture had disappeared and carted off to other states.  I was warned that if I wanted anything from my grandmother’s house I needed to take it as soon as possible as he was delaying other relatives who were interested in her possessions.My work boots sunk into the over-ripened avocado green carpeting as I scanned her dresser for any of her jewelry. The table runner was stained and bunched up along the wood topped surface. Small ceramic jewelry boxes were missing their lids and loose beads were scattered in every direction. A plastic heart-shaped frame holding my sister’s baby picture had been crushed due to a relative’s carelessness.As a child, I would often compliment my grandmother on her beautiful jewelry. The next time she saw me she would have a small package for me and to my surprise it would be the same piece of jewelry I had complimented the week before. I stopped complimenting her beautiful beads and pins because I didn’t want her to give me all of her jewelry. I scanned the dresser attempting to find some of the pieces I recalled her wearing when I was young but they were nowhere to be found. I took what little jewelry I found with me when I left that day.The night before my husband and I returned to her house I had a dream that I was being led into her house, through the front door and down the hallway into her bedroom. Once inside, a light was flickering off and on in my grandmother’s closet. Upon waking I was anxious to go to her house to examine her bedroom closet, the one place I neglected to look for anything.When we arrived, I ran to her bedroom and turned on the closet light. Mismatched shoes covered the floor, and old kitchen gadgets lined the closet shelves. I sat on a small stool in the cramped space and ran my fingertips along the floor, behind the shoes and in-between long winter coats. That is where I found three Mele & Co. jewelry boxes that I didn’t recall seeing on my grandmother’s dresser. One was wood-grain, another with a gold metallic pattern and the third was black leather. I drew my breath in slowly and marveled at my discovery. Each jewelry box was full of glittering antique pins and shining earrings that I had never seen before. When my father stopped by the house later that day I showed him my discovery. He told me that he didn’t know the jewelry boxes were inside the closet and that they had probably been there since the 1960’s.I don’t blame my relatives for taking what they could, grief can bring out the worst in people. I understand the desire to have something that belonged to someone who was so important in your life but I would give up all three of the beautiful boxes and their contents to have one more day with my grandmother.I have enclosed a picture of one of my grandmother Genevieve's jewelry boxes. As I was setting it up to take this picture, my cat Pickles became very fascinated with all of the shiny treasures inside. She rubbed her whiskers along the edge of the box affectionately and my heart instantly felt warm. My grandmother loved cats as much as her jewelry and although she never was able to meet my cat Pickles, I know that it would make her happy that a loving cat was rubbing against her jewelry box affectionately.After my ninety-seven-year-old grandmother passed, my husband and I worked to clean out her house for a potential buyer. Growing up during the depression, she had great difficulty throwing anything away. My grandmother had mobility issues in her later years that prevented her from spending much time downstairs.Consequently, the basement looked like a grocery store mixed with a charity shop. The long row of shelves that covered half of the wall were stacked high with expired groceries. Six cabinets over poured with glassware including indented scalloped-edged plates to hold the matching hand painted tea cups. There were rows of gaudy, orange and yellow floral patterned narrow glasses from the 1960’s, boxy Christmas coffee mugs depicted wintry scenes from the 1980’s and green-tinted Coca-Cola soda glasses.Every weekend we worked for hours in her basement, sorting through bright popcorn tins full of tangled embroidery floss, dusty boxes of gift bags, and lacy sachets of her homemade potpourri. A floor to ceiling cabinet held skeins of yarn in every color and we discovered an antique microscope complete with slides that had to weigh at least twenty pounds.My father had warned me that family members from all corners of the country had been in the house before us, rooting through her possessions like looters. They hadn’t touched the basement but her bedroom and living room had been ransacked. Specific paperweights that she had promised me as a child were long gone. Pieces of furniture had disappeared and carted off to other states.  I was warned that if I wanted anything from my grandmother’s house I needed to take it as soon as possible as he was delaying other relatives who were interested in her possessions.My work boots sunk into the over-ripened avocado green carpeting as I scanned her dresser for any of her jewelry. The table runner was stained and bunched up along the wood topped surface. Small ceramic jewelry boxes were missing their lids and loose beads were scattered in every direction. A plastic heart-shaped frame holding my sister’s baby picture had been crushed due to a relative’s carelessness.As a child, I would often compliment my grandmother on her beautiful jewelry. The next time she saw me she would have a small package for me and to my surprise it would be the same piece of jewelry I had complimented the week before. I stopped complimenting her beautiful beads and pins because I didn’t want her to give me all of her jewelry. I scanned the dresser attempting to find some of the pieces I recalled her wearing when I was young but they were nowhere to be found. I took what little jewelry I found with me when I left that day.The night before my husband and I returned to her house I had a dream that I was being led into her house, through the front door and down the hallway into her bedroom. Once inside, a light was flickering off and on in my grandmother’s closet. Upon waking I was anxious to go to her house to examine her bedroom closet, the one place I neglected to look for anything.When we arrived, I ran to her bedroom and turned on the closet light. Mismatched shoes covered the floor, and old kitchen gadgets lined the closet shelves. I sat on a small stool in the cramped space and ran my fingertips along the floor, behind the shoes and in-between long winter coats. That is where I found three Mele & Co. jewelry boxes that I didn’t recall seeing on my grandmother’s dresser. One was wood-grain, another with a gold metallic pattern and the third was black leather. I drew my breath in slowly and marveled at my discovery. Each jewelry box was full of glittering antique pins and shining earrings that I had never seen before. When my father stopped by the house later that day I showed him my discovery. He told me that he didn’t know the jewelry boxes were inside the closet and that they had probably been there since the 1960’s.I don’t blame my relatives for taking what they could, grief can bring out the worst in people. I understand the desire to have something that belonged to someone who was so important in your life but I would give up all three of the beautiful boxes and their contents to have one more day with my grandmother.I have enclosed a picture of one of my grandmother Genevieve's jewelry boxes. As I was setting it up to take this picture, my cat Pickles became very fascinated with all of the shiny treasures inside. She rubbed her whiskers along the edge of the box affectionately and my heart instantly felt warm. My grandmother loved cats as much as her jewelry and although she never was able to meet my cat Pickles, I know that it would make her happy that a loving cat was rubbing against her jewelry box affectionately.

Comments

By MeleCo on
Wow! We do not even know how to respond to your amazingly touching and beautiful story. We had all kinds of emotions from the words you wrote and shared with us and we can see how much you and your grandmother truly loved each other and had a special bond. We think those Mele jewelry boxes were meant to be found by you and even though they will never replace your grandmother, we're sure she is smiling knowing you have them. Thank you so much for sharing your story with us and we hope you have the happiest holiday season!