Everyone has a top drawer of a dresser, nightstand or desk where items collect. Some things are used a lot, a small pair of scissors to clip off the new tags on clothing or a pack of sticky notes for example. Add an emery board emblazoned with a political candidate’s name and slogan- “Let Mike make a Difference!”or a black velvet jewelry pouch for travel. Handy and practical. But also in that top drawer one may store some things that are just too good to toss, but don’t have much usefulness anymore. In my top drawer I recently found a once significant tac pin from a past sales meeting, a random “Elmo” key fob, a macaroni necklace & a matchbook from a now extinct favorite restaurant. Much less practical but nostalgically significant and not disposable quite yet.
So I was not surprised when opening my Mother’s top dresser drawer to find all sorts of things. As a little girl I wasn’t ever allowed in that top drawer. It was deemed, “none of my business” and anything in that space was off limits and after all didn’t belong to me.
Decades later I was about to embark on opening that top dresser drawer at my Mom’s home. She had left this house five years ago and would most likely never return again for she resided in an Alzheimer’s assisted living facility. This day I was on a hunt for the practical, some costume jewelry to take to my Mother. At homes like these things get misplaced and “rearranged” so it had to be something I was willing to never see again…(or see in a month or two bedecking some other dear resident as they walked within four safe walls.)
Cautiously, stealthily, I sat on Mom’s bed and paused in front of the limed-oak dresser. Purchased by my newlywed parents in the early 50’s, it would be considered “retro” or “vintage” to the trained eye and “way out of date” by anyone else. It matched a chest of drawers and a carved headboard. The knobs appealed to me. They were substantial and not ornate in the slightest. They were the size and shape of an old fashioned Shredded Wheat biscuit, say about 6”wide x 3”high. (That description is surely lost on the frosted mini-wheat generation of today.)
I sat like a safe-cracker in front of the anticipated loot then let out an audible sigh and glided the drawer open gently, without a sound. It felt wrong to be ‘snooping,’ but I was on a personal mission for HER, so I let the guilt subside and got on with the task.
In her top dresser drawer, along with scads of costume jewelry and little change purses I found a yellowed & worn 3x5 card.
In my Mother’s lacy left-handed cursive writing it said:
Say this Every Morning
I believe this is going to be a wonderful day. I believe I can successfully handle all problems that will arise today. I feel good physically, mentally, emotionally. It is wonderful to be alive. I am grateful for all that I have had, for all that I now have and for all that I shall have. Things aren’t going to fall apart. God is here and He is with me and He will see me through. I thank God for every good thing. Love, Jacqi / From the Power of Positive Thinking~ Rev. Norman Vincent Peale.
My mother knew the magic of positive thinking and she knew that carefully chosen words counteract negativity. Be damned cynicism and hopelessness! Hit the road anxiety. And if that weren’t enough, she had her God on her side!
She would make herself notes as reminders and this one must have been a particular favorite judging by its tattered-ness and placement in her Top Drawer. Certainly you can guess where the worn 3x5 card will reside; in my dresser, the top drawer, of course. And for the next 3 years that will be a top drawer in China.
So now, after Mom’s passing on Mother’s Day 2011, my dear daughter & I sort through costume jewelry, tac pins, a passport and driver’s license, earthly items that only have meaning & worth on this plane. The forbidden Top Drawer has revealed more than earthly items that is certain. It’s revealed a portion of my mother’s philosophy and how she wanted to live her 83 years, 7 months and 23 days. Her legacy of the power of positive thinking has helped me through some uphill climbs in my life. And her passing away will be a new challenge. Today I walked away slowly from her memorial service knowing that “things aren't going to fall apart.” I waved and blew a kiss through the air like we have always done and began a new journey being grateful and steeped in the knowledge and comfort that I will always be, “Jacqi’s Daughter.”
I love you, Mom, Always Have…..Always Will….......Carol
Thanks for reading,