I had always played with her jewelry as a kid, and so it kind of fit that I would inherit it.
In that box were lot of sparkly bracelets and rings. But in this one special compartment I found something else. Something my Mother had packed away--a symbol-- to remind her of a specific time and place, or a certain kind of struggle. Why it was tucked away in a jewelry box, of all places, I'll never know.
See, my parents came to Ellis Island in the 1960's from Eastern Europe, poor and broken, but hopeful. They had to learn a new language and integrate a new culture.
So last week when I saw my son playing with my jewelry and opening my mother's box, I felt warm and fuzzy. Then he held up my Mom's special symbol, one that I had long forgotten, with a puzzled look on his face.
It was a lone piece of bread she had set aside for their journey to this country, just in case they needed it. A piece of dark brown pumpernickel, now aged forty years, and hard as a rock, left in a plastic bag.
That bread had made quite a journey, and I cannot bear to ever dispose of it. So back in the special compartment it went. A story to always be shared.
If I were writing a book about my parents, that bread would be symbolic. Much as the Mockingjay was used in The Hunger Games, and the Phoenix in Harry Potter, and on and on.
I use certain symbols in my books (gloves and stones, for example)- some I hadn't even realized until they were pointed out. They add another rich layer of meaning, something for the reader to latch onto and remember.
(photo sources: www.nyc-architecture.com, www.thefreshloaf.com, mysears.com)