Several weeks ago my mother gave me two suitcases filled with pictures and other items. I was excited to get them and couldn’t wait to go thru them. After bringing them into the house and just opening the lids and peeking in, I was a little overwhelmed. Judging from the pictures in each suitcase I could tell that one was from my paternal grandfather’s side of the family and the other was from my paternal grandmother’s side of the family. After quickly sifting through them a little I realized that this was going to be a bit of a job.
Since I obviously couldn’t keep them in the suitcases where they had been for years and years I would need to first buy a couple of containers to put them in before I started sorting through them.
I started with the metal suitcase on top. This was the one from my grandfather’s side of the family. Judging from what was in the suitcase it probably originally belonged to my great uncle Dick. In this suitcase I found my greatest treasure. A picture of my Dad and his two sisters when they were very young. For whatever reason that picture made me cry and even today all I have to do is think about it and it does the same thing to me. There were other pictures of my dad as a youngster. Several with a woman that I knew immediately was his Aunt Lizzie (Uncle Dick’s first wife). He loved her dearly and talked about her fondly. Uncle Dick and Aunt Lizzie didn’t have any children and I think she took a particular interest in my dad because of that. He lived with his grandparents. But he told me many times about his Aunt Lizzie taking him to church and other places. I think she was responsible for helping to shape his spiritual side.
I went completely thru this suitcase and at the very bottom I found the book from Aunt Lizzie’s funeral. Along with it were scads of cards that people signed when they visited the funeral home and I couldn’t begin to tell you how many cards for floral arrangements. The picture I took of the pile really doesn’t do it justice. This pile was actually about 3 inches thick. I wish I had spread them out only 1 card high instead.
So Aunt Lizzie apparently was not only thought of highly by her nephew Kennith, but by most of Roanoke and some beyond as well. Today’s way of signing into a book at the funeral home would not have been adequate for this woman. They would have needed a couple of extra books. Three different churches sent flowers. Also amongst these funeral mementos I found a poem that Uncle Dick saved titled “Should You Go First”. It had been mimeographed, I could tell from the purple copy. He had folded it and refolded and it looked like he had read it many times. Here is a link to the poem, it really is beautiful. “Should You Go First”
She died in the mid 50’s. I doubt there are few alive who remember her or her story. But I remember her and who she was and the love and kindness she showered on my father as a child. I remember because he shared those stories with me. I am thankful for the suitcase with her funeral keepsakes. They were important enough for her husband to kept them for years afterwards, even after he remarried later in life. He treasured them and the poem that someone gave him. Opening it to read it and then folding it up again.