Literature - Guest Contributions
When the Bough Breaks (from the family tree)
by: Kris Trolinger & Jim Trolinger
(contest for Orange County Register which
involved writing a story about the painting (above) provided)
It was a cold March day when my family finally found the courage to gather at Grandmother's house to divide a lifetime of treasures. With heavy hearts and regrets of unspoken conversations about our family history, we gathered in a room filled with family heirlooms representing five generations of our family. This room that had always captured Grandmother's spirit seemed totally different without her presence. The energy and life of each object had vanished.
The sheer number of items to be examined, many of which were unidentifiable, reminded us of the wealth of knowledge that had been buried with Grandmother. The biggest void was lack of information of Mattie Tillete, my Great Grandmother who had died when Grandmother was four. I had heard of a golden locket, the only remaining artifact of hers, but no one seemed to know of its whereabouts or even if it existed at all.
Hours of sorting led to a small collection of heirloom jewelry housed in a shoebox. Beneath bracelets, necklaces, and costume jewelry, perched a small worn golden locket. My heart raced as I picked up the locket to examine its face. I gently rubbed it in my hands feeling an aching need to know more about my ancestors. After careful inspection, I exploded with excitement upon seeing the telltale letters "MT", almost invisible through scratches.
Much to my surprise, the locket sprung open revealing yellowing pictures of Great Grandfather and Mattie. I thought the day could not have given me a better gift, but then, without warning, one of the pictures fell from the locket. On the back was a fading note that simply read, "go inside the tree of memories and dig two feet."
Approaching the timeless, hollow oak, which as my birthright I knew to be the tree of memories, I was flooded with images of generations of children playing in the tree. Without hesitation, I entered the musty smellingspace within and began digging as though I feared the hidden prize might escape. Suddenly the Earth revealed a small metal box. I raked off the remaining dirt and lifted the box from its grave. Inside lay a thick book and a tattered, rotting envelope.
The letter read,
“Dearest daughter, By now I have left this world. However, someday you will understand that a mother's love can traverse the limitations of time and death. Although I must leave you at such a young age, I am leaving you my diary, so that you will know me as girl, woman, and a mother who loved you and your father so very much.
Your loving Mother”
Tears streamed down my face as I realized that Grandmother had never found her mother's diary. At that moment, a gentle breeze swept in a small yellow butterfly who kissed my cheek and landed near the box. In a flash of joy I realized that I had been guided to accept and treasure for her this wonderful gift of love.