Yesterday morning on my way to work, I saw a man driving a white Buick Park Avenue. I know that seems like a completely normal event, but for me, it triggered a memory. The man driving the car wore a baseball cap. I couldn’t see his face, but it wouldn’t have mattered, because the image was already in my head, of my dad, Allen Spencer driving around in my parents Buick Park Avenue. It was their idea of a luxury car. They wanted one they could be comfortable in, when they went on vacations. The Buick Park Avenue fit the bill perfectly. Mom and Dad loved that car. When they pulled the trailer all the time, of course, they used the Suburban, but when it was just the two of them and maybe a few more, they really enjoyed the comfort of the Buick.
When I saw that Buick yesterday, I felt a twinge of sadness, but still I had to smile, because in my mind, I saw my dad…healthy, happy, and just enjoying the drive. You see, my parents loved to just go for a drive. It didn’t have to be going to anywhere, because it wasn’t always about the destination. It was about the journey. Sometimes in the evenings, when we were kids, we would all load up into the car and Dad would take us for a ride. We always ended up someplace where we could see the whole city. We had dubbed it the jewelry box, and as little girls, we could imagine that all the lights were diamond necklaces, and other jewels glistening in the sunlight…even if it did have to be dark to see it. It was never about where we went though, because it was just the whole family together going for that drive. Driving was a pleasure my parents never got tired of. Even when they no longer drove, they wanted to take a drive. My sister, Cheryl Masterson often took them on those drives…a memory she will always cherish.
As I drove on to work, I felt a mix of happiness and sadness, because of the man in the white Buick Park Avenue. Happy, because it was such a sweet memory of my dad, and sad, because I miss him and my mom so much. I feel so blessed to have such sweet memories of them. They did so many things in their lives, and they were so truly happy together. That is a greater blessing than many others, in a time when so many marriages don’t last. A family that has two parents, who love each other, and who manage to create such sweet memories out of something so simple as going for an evening drive, is a blessed family indeed, because later on, you will find that it isn’t the big moments like a trip to the Grand Canyon or New York City that will really stand out in your memory. It is the little moments…the everyday moments, that seem so insignificant, but have such a sweetness to them, that you will always remember. And you just never know when something will trigger a reminder of those sweet little everyday moments.
When my grandmother, Hattie Byer passed away, her girls ended up with a lot of jewelry. Grandma loved her jewelry, and always looked so pretty in it. Of course, at the time my sisters and I saw the pieces my mother, Collene Spencer received, we thought many of them were pretty old fashioned…although there were some timeless pieces, because not all jewelry goes out of style. Still, Mom kept and cherished her mother’s jewelry, mostly I’m sure, because it was her mother’s. Now that Mom has gone to Heaven too, my sisters and I have been going through her things, and we have come upon her jewelry, as well as her mother’s jewelry. If Mom could have gotten her hands on all the jewelry we have come across, she would have been simply floating on air. We have found pieces that would have gone with so many of her outfits, and yet she always wore something else with them, because it was difficult to get to the stored jewelry.
Now, don’t get me wrong, there has been some stuff that we have looked at and wondered what the person who bought that piece was thinking! When you buy a necklace made of little plastic pineapple beads…dozens of them…well, let’s just say that since they were plastic anyway…they will be part of the little girls’ dress up jewelry. There were also pieces that, while one of us would never wear them, one of the others would. We all have slightly different tastes when it comes to jewelry, so very little of it has been left there with the thought of figuring something out. There were also pieces that, while most likely none of us will ever wear, we can vividly see our mother wearing. Those pieces when drawn for fall into the category of never to be worn, but it’s a Mom Necklace, so it will be kept. There were also pieces that, while probably not valuable, were obviously quite old. Those will be kept and treasured for the treasure they are, and probably only worn on special occasions.
The thing that amazed us the most, was the sheer volume of jewelry Mom had. Every time we come across another jewelry box, shoe box, or drawer with jewelry in it, we have thought, “Wow!! How much jewelry did she have, anyway?” We have even ventured to say that she simply had too much jewelry! Then I got to thinking…can a girl ever really have too much jewelry. I love jewelry, and I have a lot of it too. Like my mother and grandmother, mine is mostly costume jewelry with no real value to anyone but me, but it’s all jewelry I like…and wear. Now I find myself with a lot more jewelry than I had before, and I find that I am going to need to go through what I had before, decide what to keep and what to give away, and figure out where I am going to store it all. The good news for me is that I wear jewelry every day, so it will get used. Besides, I don’t know what outfits I’ll have in the future and what colors I’ll need. I suppose that some day, my own girls will say that I have too much jewelry, but seriously…can any girl ever have too much jewelry? I don’t think so.
My parents always liked to travel, and sometimes they didn’t have vacation time coming, but wanted to feel like they took us someplace. So along came going for a drive. I know lots of people who, like my parents, love to go for a drive around town, just for the pleasure of the road trip…even if the road trip is only 10 miles or so. It always took longer, of course, because we would stop and look around at all the sights. My favorite ride was up to the mountain, to look out point, or up to the hill where the Events Center now sits (though it was not there when I was little). We would always end up one of those places at night, so we could see the city lights.
Dad and Mom always liked the view of the city lights, but I think they also realized that with 5 girls, twinkling city lights would always be viewed with a sense of awe. It was the highlight of the whole drive. Sometimes we had to look quickly as we headed on into town, but other times we got to stop and just enjoy the beauty of the lights. We girls always called the lights The Jewelry Box, because the lights seemed to form sparkling necklaces and other pieces of jewelry. Sure, you had to use your imagination, but we were quite good at that.
Those drives and beautiful view of the city lights are things that we will always have in our memories. Mom and Dad just wanted to give us a chance to go for a drive, when there was not much else to do that didn’t cost a bunch of money for 7 people, but what they really gave us was a lifetime of memories. To this day, all of us love to go for a drive, and I don’t think any of us can come into town at night without remembering The Jewelry Box when we see the city lights.
We will always consider ourselves blessed because of all the places our parents took us on vacations. We have seen so many states, and experienced their beauty. We have camped out and stayed in hotels. We have learned about the Oregon Trail, and just about every other historical marker we ever came across. We have seen both coasts and the Gulf of Mexico. We have been to Canada and Mexico. Yes, we have been very blessed because of our parents love of travel, but one place that has always brought special memories was right in our own back yard…The Jewelry Box.