Monday, June 23, 2008

Do you believe in magic?

My dad was cremated with a dollar bill in his pocket; the same dollar he'd carried in his wallet for some thirty-five plus years. Being sure that dollar stayed with him, even then, was a meaningful act on the part of my brothers and I. A ritual we observed.

The dollar bill was something like a talisman to my dad. It had been given to him as a form of repayment by his first-born son, my brother Neil, sometime before he died as a child from aplastic anemia. My dad never was able to tell me what exactly Neil was repaying him for, without becoming tearful and angry, so that part of the story is lost to me. But I'd always understood the sentiment behind him carrying it in his wallet all those years.

I have a few such talismans myself; physical signs of relationships with people and places and experiences. Symbols of connection and reconnection, union and reunion with what is sacred to me. Carried in a pocket or wallet, worn around my neck or on a finger, secreted away in shoeboxes and drawers.

Parting with any of them would be difficult for me; each has its story, each is connected to some important event or place in my life. Each is the physical proof that I believe in magic; that I honor the ritual of rememberance.

To describe any of it or try explaining it would, perhaps, lessen the magic. Someday though, these keepsakes of mine will be found, and someone will wonder what they were about.

Think about the things you surround yourself with. Look on you and around you. Your closet, the jewelry box, your purse, your wrist, the desk where you spend hours each day. Much of what others might see as simple adornment or, heaven forbid, dust-collectors may really represent the power of love and rememberance. Tokens of an on-going connection, rituals of place and time and people.

I propose that we should choose one object from that treasure chest of memory and share it with someone else... best if it can be a person directly related to the keepsake. Dust it off and polish the memory... tell what it is that provokes your imagination so, tell why it has such power for you, tell what makes it magic.

;-)

12 comments:

cedrorum said...

I love this post. It is so true. I have little things that I have kept since childhood like you speak of. When I was around 7 or so my mom's side of the family in England either sent or brought over while visiting us these little "observers" books from England. Each one centers on something like airplanes, bird eggs, flags of the world... They are signed by my uncles, aunts, and grandparents. I still have all of them. I'm in the process of getting them out and giving them to my 2 boys, 5 and 7 so they can now relish them. I have already told them about the history behind them. Maybe they will end up giving them to their kids.

bobbie said...

This post touches me. Yes, I think we all have such talismans. I know that I do, and they are many. My most usual ones are small stones or sea shells from places I have visited. When I was younger I had to hide them away because my mother could never tolerate "dust collectors", and they would disappear quickly. I have a shadow box on my bedroom wall. (It's really an old printer's tray.) I keep many of these small items in its compartments - useless little objects that have significance only to me.

Jayne said...

I often wonder when you see odd things at estate and yard sales what they were and what they meant to someone, and yet, no one knew. If no one knows, the meaning is lost. You are right Laura. We need to share those things most meaningful to us so that someone might hold tightly to them in connection to us, or at the least, they won't end up being sold for $.25 at a yard sale. Very lovely post.

NCmountainwoman said...

I believe the magic of a talisman is finite, limited by the lifetime of the owner. Each of us must have our own, based upon our own experiences. While you might have liked to have kept your father's dollar bill, you were right to send it with him. It was his. You and your brothers must keep the story alive.

Floridacracker said...

A very fine, very thoughtful post.
Nice work Laura.

Lynne said...

I wear my mother's wedding ring, looking at it and thinking of her many times a day. While keeping me connected to her, it's also helping me come to terms with her passing.

ReluctantChickenFarmer said...

Lidded boxes
valued boxes,
trinkets,
rocks,
coins,
tiny motors,
bits of paper,
stamps,
old watches,
do-dads and thing-a-ma-jigs,
stashed away since childhood and every time in between,
in those secret lidded boxes.....

saved for some future project,
saved for a rainy day,
saved for a reason lost in time, but too valuable to discard.

pick through the smells,
pick through memories,
pick through the childhood,
pick through time.

what is that ?
why did I save that?
what part does that belong to ?
why didn't I throw that out ?
maybe some day.

LauraHinNJ said...

Cedrorum: I bet they'll love them even more in the years to come.

Your comment made me remember the postcards from Spain my Uncle Doc used to give me - they are really beautiful. I'll have to dig them up for a post one of these days!

Bobbie: You made me smile! Your shadow box sounds perfect, filled with the little treasures of a lifetime.

Jayne: I have a little heart-shaped box with found bird feathers. Just the other day I found a yellow-shafted flicker feather to add. Sort of made my day a little.

;-)

NCMountainWoman: My dad meant to return it, I think. That's why he held onto it.

FC: Thanks.

Lynne: Funny... I've done the same for years. I had to have it resized last year and most of the engraving was lost in the process... made me sad.

Kev: (my other poet brother) - thanks for that. Share your treasure chest someday, okay?

Jennifer said...

Oh my, this post IS magic. (I actually call the top of my desk at work my alter. Is that sacrilege?)

dguzman said...

Great post, Laura. One of my current talismans bears some relation to you (and the two Susans): a little creamy white pebble I picked up on the beach at Cape May, right around the time we saw that crab. Remember that?

LauraHinNJ said...

Jennifer: Funny... I don't think so, no. I keep an odd assortment of things with me at work, too.

Delia: :-) Yes... I remember that! Photos make great talismans, too, I think. Probably my favorite type, but I do have my fair share of pebbles and seashells too.

d. moll, l.ac. said...

I had my mom cremated with a couple of California Buckeyes, she usually had a a few on her kitchen window sill, never tiring of their slightly lumpy shiny brown shapes...