|Handmade by Little Me|
These look like a child made them. One did: ME! But the story behind why I still have them is pretty special.
When I was in elementary school there was this girl (Katie) whose mother made porcelain dolls for a living. She thought it would be fun to come in and do art with all of us - and it was!
Back then cookie cutters were pretty boring (early 80's, people! We were easily amused and didn't have the internet) but bridge and seasonal shapes were as exciting a cutter as we'd ever known!
I remember we needed a certain amount to balance the piece and that one of my shapes broke in the baking process. She'd had us make extra, expecting that to happen, so I wound up with one that says RJ. We had TWO Ryan J's in our class so we called the other by his first and middle name (RMJ). Funny how I can't remember how to graph a sentence but I can read you my entire elementary roster with my eyes closed.
So you'll see each piece is marked SW (my maiden initials) and one RJ.
Great, so what makes this unique? I'm getting there.
Little me wanted to send these to my grandparents who lived in Pennsylvania (I grew up in Southern California and moved to PA after they passed). My parents helped package them carefully and off to Pennsylvania they went where they were loved and cherished (no doubt, right? I mean my grandmama played bridge - see those shapes? perfect).
We relocated to Massachusetts when I was 14, then to Pennsylvania when I was 17. We moved into their old house; the one my mother had grown up in and the one my chimes had once lived in. She'd had to clear everything out after they passed and my dad got a job within commuting distance.
Then, when I was 20 my mom took me to the hospital's thrift store. My grandfather had been a doctor there, but I never knew about the thrift store!
I was poking around for a score when I saw a flash of familiar color.............................MY CHIMES! I started freaking out. It couldn't be but they were mine and they had the initials to prove it.
So we bought them back! I think they were like $4 worth of awesome. I remember thinking it was slightly weird that they lady didn't just give them to me after I shared such an incredible reunion story with her but whatever, we're obviously big supporters of that hospital.
I wrapped them in my grandmama's delicate hand embroidered handkerchief collection. Back in the 40's and 50's people were really hurting for money so often they'd give gifts in exchange for treatment. Can you imagine how that would work out these days? My arm is falling off but I promise to bake you bread and spray paint a vase some funky color! Just treat me!
Since I had my mother's hope chest I put them in there along with other treasures I wanted to have with me forever. They went to Massachusetts, Virginia, Oregon, and back to Pennsylvania with me.
Then we had the fire.
I was only allowed up that one time to look for our wedding rings, but Brandon went back a few times with Desperation Lists (AKA lists I wrote pleading for him to look certain places where things might be salvageable). 99.9% of the time they were not. His heart would break and he'd hunt for other things to bring home to me; he never wanted to return empty handed. He worked hard in there. It was a wreck.
Here's what he was up against:
See that pile of...............burn to the right of the door? That is my hope chest. You can see the corner poking out if you look closely. I'd been piling all my baby-treasures on top of it so it was insulated.
My husband broke through all that and got into the chest.
He came away from The Ashes one day dragging a Hefty sack that contained my Cabbage Patch Kids, a couple quilts, old photographs and my ice skating medals, and....................THE CHIMES!
It isn't much but it's something. I tried, baby, I tried...
That is what he'd say after each trip.
He even went so far as to try and rescue my Annotated Alice and leather-bound Tolkien books knowing they were special. They didn't make it. Each sack he brought contained about 10% of things we could keep. The rest was garbage. It only looked "OK" compared to the freakshow going on up in there. Like, things would look bright and cheery next to the charred and melted wreck of something else. But once you brought it into The Real World it was just a different level of freakshow. Make sense?
So that is how I still have the chimes. I don't keep them bundled up or tucked away anymore. They hang in our bedroom window and remind me that part of my past isn't completely gone...
...and the whole story makes me smile. I love you, baby, and I know you tried.