Category Archives: Wedding Ring pattern

Hope Chest Story

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Opening the lid on my mother’s hope chest, I always breathed deeply

of the cedar smell and would close my eyes to really take the breath

in, feeling the memories coming. I used to love to make my parents’

bed and dust in their bedroom. I would go to the foot of the bed and

take the crocheted coverlet off the chest. I would kneel upon my knees,

stretching my arms wide to be ready to support the lid once I opened

it. There are new hope chests that have the protective hinge that won’t

shut a child’s fingers in them. This was an older, almost antique looking

chest, its sides shiny and showing the grain of the wood. The top had a

swirling pattern carved into it. It may have been engraved by an artisan

or may have been produced by a factory. I loved the way it smelled then.

Also, I loved the way the ten different items that I am focusing on, in my

thoughts, meant something. These demonstrated love and sentimental

value in their being kept in this special location, so close to where my

parents slept and held each other through good times and bad.

Beginning from the delicate top layer to the bottom “foundation” layer,

each piece piled upon the next, neatly stacked with white tissue paper

between the layers this contained a lifetime of memories.

1. Pearl seeded cap to hold the veil upon my mother’s head. She sewed

each pearl on the cap and made her veil and dress. She used a pattern

that had Elizabethan cap sleeves, with the point at the wrist and its

length ending at her ankles.

2. Irish lace tablecloth, cream colored. She toured Europe after she

graduated from college, buying exquisite purchases that lasted. She

kept carefully until a fancy dinner would be served. She used her own

money for this trip and her parents gave her a small amount of spending

money.

3. White Christening gown. Tiny flowers with x’s and o’s, lovingly

stitched into the puckers along the neckline. This was worn by my

brothers and I when we were baptized as babies.

4. Hand sewn aprons. The multicolored aprons have primary colors in

them, red, yellow, green and blue. Each one of them has a pocket (or 2)

and my daughters now each have one to use or preserve, as they wish.

5. Lacy crocheted doilies. My grandmother was very good at making

these, along with hand painting cards for Gibson card company.

6. Large English tapestry. There is a shield with a crest on it, from years

gone by. It is burgundy, deep blue and has some golden threads woven

into it.

7. Bright silk sari. Turquoise, tangerine and gold threads are woven into

this silken sari, worn as a dress by my ex-husband’s friend, Kim’s wife,

Sunny. (I wrote about her in a post and brought this home from college

in the 70’s to add to the layers.) It has an intricately designed pattern on

the edges of it.

8. Cross-stitched Alphabet Sampler. This reminds me of those old primers,

but this once had been framed but my mother took it out, saying it was

starting to get ‘sun-damaged’ and was yellowing. She gently washed it in

cold water, re-stretched it out and then ironed it on the unpatterned side.

9. Handkerchiefs. These were from my grandmothers’ (both sides of family)

purses. When I would hold them to my nose, even though they were kept

in the hope chest with cedar wood interior, they held the perfumed scents

of those dear ones. Each had a fine edge rolled up and most had a floral

design, my favorite being, while young, the violets. Now, I have to admit

I think the embroidered roses make me smile since my mother loves them.

10. And, under them all… A West Virginian homemade patchwork quilt.

My parents first trip together was to Tennessee to see a classmate of my

father’s who graduated in engineering at U. of C. While traveling the

back roads down, they got turned around and while “lost” they found

a small local store hidden in the hills of West Virginia. There was more

of a story about the way the people stared at my parents and how they

chuckled when they heard how far off the beaten path they had gone.

The elaborately chosen patchwork quilt had  the wedding rings pattern

carefully sewn into it. The forever entwined, never ending rings would

embody a marriage of almost 44 years.

The quilt became an emblem of their love, never to be unstitched as love

would have it. It held the everlasting meaning or impression upon this

young girl when I would take each layer out of the hope chest, to examine

and sometimes to be found by my mother. She would tell me the meaning

of each layer, reminding me of the time when we were small and how in

the middle of the night we would wake up because of a nightmare.

Mom told me that in our first house together in Sandusky, Ohio, they

had used this as their blanket. She would lift a corner of her sheet with

the blanket on top, allowing us to climb in with Dad and her. We would

eventually calm down, be led back to bed (or carried.)

Tracing my fingers along the stitches in time, I held my breath in awe.

Even while young, I knew there was mysticism and magic in love.

What memories can be found within your family steamer trunk, hope

chest, or Army trunk? If you don’t have those, is there a special drawer

that holds your “valuables that hold memories?”