When I look at the man my husband, Bob has become, I can’t help but think back on the young man he was when I first met him, and imagine the boy he used to be. Bob has been and always will be very much into cars. Really, from the time he was young, to the present day. Cars have intrigued him. As a kid, he had lots of model cars. They pretty much dominated his time and his room. Pictures of his collections dominated his photo album too. He put the cars together with much patience and great care. If you have ever looked at a model car, before it was put together, you will know that there is a multitude od tiny pieces that must be glued in and in the proper order for the car to come together and look the way it should. Since I don’t really like to do puzzles, and this seems much like a puzzle to me, I think that putting a model car together would drive me crazy. Nevertheless, it was a pastime that Bob really enjoyed.
I didn’t know this before I knew Bob, but the makers of model cars keep a record of sorts on the cars they have made, much like baseball cards or football cards, you can collect them all. And, I think Bob may have done just that when he was a young man. I remember buying some for him in later years, and that is when I discovered that to do so correctly, I needed to know which ones he already had, because duplicates really made no sense…unless a person just wanted to have lots of different colored Mustangs.
These cars were not toys, as I’m sure Bob’s younger siblings and especially his little brother, Ron would find out. As a child who sees a plastic car will tell you…”It looked like a toy to me!” That was usually said after they found themselves in hot water with the model car’s owner. It’s an innocent mistake, when you think about it. All their toys are about that size, so what makes this car so special that it can’t be driven. Well, I suppose the real answer would lie in the fact that the car’s wheels were glued in place…or at least a lot of them were. The fact that the cars wheels would not move might make it difficult to drive it, but that is rarely a deterrent to a kid who wants to look the car over and play with it, but a big brother who threatens to rip your head off, might just make you think twice before you touch one of these priceless treasures…if you want to live, that is.
As the years have passed, Bob’s love of cars has only grown. Nevertheless, these days he has bigger fish to fry than the little model cars he used to love to spend so much time making. Now, real cars dominate his free time. He is constantly working on a car for this person or that person, and once in a while even himself…or me!! He is constantly covered in grease from head to toe. He seldom uses glue to put things back together, but there are times when a repair does call for a sealant or something similar. I suppose that if he had time, he might enjoy putting together model cars again, but thankfully for me, he doesn’t have a lot of time for such things. No, we don’t have model cars lining the headboard of our bed, but that doesn’t mean he likes then any less. And it doesn’t mean that our home is free of them either. While most of them have been given away or stored away in boxes, there is still one model car that gets to live out in the open. In our living room, on a shelf with knick-knacks, sits a model car of one of his favorite kinds…the El Camino. He used to have an one years ago. It is long since gone, but it’s memory lives on in the form of a model car.
Safely tucked away, in a closet in the basement of my home, sits a red box. It is a homemade hope chest, built by my dad, when I was a little girl. Dad built two of them, one for my sister, Cheryl and one for me. This was long before hope chests became popular again, or maybe they always were, and I just didn’t know it then. I loved that little hope chest. I suppose some people would have thought it plain, but it held a very special meaning to me. My daddy had made it for me, and told me that it was to keep my treasures in. The original paddle lock was lost long ago, and replaced with a new one. I have lost the key to that one, so now a bobby pin has to suffice. It really wouldn’t matter if it was unlocked, I suppose, because to most people it’s contents have no real value. It holds no gold, silver, or diamonds…just the treasures from my past.
When I opened it last night…the first time in a long time, I saw my girlhood treasures, like souvenirs from trips taken as a child, my first wrist watch, and cameo soaps I got from…who knows where. I saw my high school diploma, and my husband Bob’s, both in pristine condition. There were treasures from my children’s lives, like perfect attendance awards from church and preschool, pictures of our family at that time, cards sent to me on special occasions, and baby cigars from a number of different births…I don’t suppose anyone would want to smoke those now. There was a baby blanket I had been given, and high school pictures of my sisters and sisters-in-law. There are three model cars…remnants of Bob’s past, and a multitude of key chains from his years of collecting them. If you looked at these items, I suppose most people would think many of them to be worthless, but to me, they are treasures…they are my past.
I realize that I am a sentimental person, and that I save things with sentimental value. I have accepted this about myself. I know that many people don’t like to save things. They don’t like the clutter, and I do admit that it can create clutter. But, I don’t really want my world to be so free of my past, that it seems sterile. This isn’t an operating room, after all, it’s my life, and my memories. I like most of my past, not to mention, my family’s past, and I want to be able to see and remember it. That is simply who I am. I can think of so many fun times in my past…camping trips with my parents and sisters, hiking with Bob, vacations with our kids, just to mention a few. In my opinion, I have lead a very nice life, and I want to always remember that. As I looked through the contents of my hope chest, my mind drifted back to a time when my family was young. The years have gone by so fast. It made me feel a little bit sad.
The contents of my hope chest have changed over the years, as my hopes and dreams have changed. As a little girl, I had the trinkets of a little girl in there, and as I grew, the things in my hope chest grew to take in my new self. Once I was married, the hope chest became a memory chest, instead of a hope chest. which was designed to collect the things a girl would need for her wedding and marriage. I think I like the latest job my hope chest has, because memories come from a life filled with good things. And maybe that is a fitting end for a hope chest, because it does start out as the hopes and dreams of a girl, and ends up with the memories of a life well lived.