There are four trunks in my home. Each one different with its own compelling journey and story to tell. Their age is showing, but they don’t care; they earned every dint, scratch, bump, bang and paint job and they are proud of it.
The oldest one resembles a beat up rusted metal box with missing hinges and broken clasps. It came to Canada from England on a ship with my great grandfather, traveled by train and horse drawn cart to finally arrive at a small farm on the Manitoba prairies. All of his possessions, hopes and dreams were in this one small trunk. It has been the minder of hand stitched quilts, precious books, important papers, calves born on cold winter nights, the secret spot to stash moonshine, toys, tools, and sundry bits and pieces. It has lived in a house, a barn, a garage and my basement. This old trunk makes me sentimental. It symbolizes my roots, brings me family and stories and strength, grit and grace. It’s time to bring it out of the basement into the light and give it something to take care of.
The second trunk has a rounded top and has been painted many times so that it is neat and tidy. It belonged to my father in law. He journeyed to Canada with it from England in 1952 by ship and then by train to BC. When he joined the armed forces it traveled with him to France and then back to Manitoba. This trunk has stories to tell and secrets to keep. Its last job was to look after the supplies for changing the oil in the car and now that it is in my home it holds my yoga mat. I too gave it a tiny face lift, scraping the paint off of the wooden slats. It reminds me that like it, we move in and out of our roles adapting and reinventing ourselves as we go. It takes time, gets messy and mistakes are made. Like painting every single part of this beautiful trunk black. It’s ok that I don’t know who I will be next or how to get there. The reinventing is in the journey not the destination.
The third trunk joined my family in the 1990’s. It’s a rescue. The local volunteer firefighters were burning down an old abandoned house as a training exercise. My husband discovered the trunk in the house and brought it home. It was dirty, beat up, musty and contained dead bugs. But as they say, it had good bones. With a bit of TLC and some paint, voila, a toy box by day a cool retro coffee table by night. As my children grew up it housed different things and lived in different rooms. It has new marks of a life well lived with us. This resilient survivor tells me that in 2020 in the middle of a worldwide pandemic that amongst the tragedy and uncertainty that the virus brings us, that there is hope, we may feel beat up and discouraged right now, but we can find encouragement, good news stories, growth and light in unexpected places waiting to be discovered.
And finally, the fourth trunk is really what’s known as a hope chest from the 1980’s. It was given to me by my grandparents the Westwoods and the Beevers as a gift on my graduation from high school. Inside were hand stitched linens. I was the first person in my family going off to university in the big city. My first piece of brand new furniture. It has traveled with me to many different homes. It has been through two weddings, one divorce, two babies and the loss and grief of my wonderful grandparents. It is the memory keeper. Tiny snippets of my life; notes from grade school crushes, 4-H projects, letters, lace gloves I wore as a brides maid, the dried roses from my wedding bouquet and the hand stitched linens that so long ago were stitched in Westwood Cottage to go into a granddaughters hope chest. Every now and then I open it up and take a walk down memory lane and bathe in the comfort of the memories of the past. Then I close it up and courageously move my life forward, for just like the four trunks in my home there are more things to experience and learn, more memories to be kept and more journeys to go on.