Day Twenty-Four: Most Precious Childhood Possession

I was always a nerd in school. I made straight A’s. I finished tests first. I studied and I really cared. One year in elementary school in Tampa, my teacher decided to give gifts to the students in the class that had the best test grades.  I got to go first. One by one we got to reach into a shoebox filled with trinkets and select a gift. I looked into the box and saw it. It was the most glorious thing I had ever seen.  It was a Megalodon shark tooth.  One giant tooth bigger than my 7 year old hand and I went back to my desk, my heart beating fast in excitement.  I couldn’t wait to show my parents. We went to the beach, that was only a mile from our house, every few days and walked the shoreline picking up shark teeth and fossils, analyzing what we’d found.  This was a great white tooth. This was a tiger shark tooth. This was a molar from a wooly mammoth.  Hours, days, weeks, and years we walked that beach looking for things and I had just gotten the Holy Grail.

I kept it in my room for years in Tampa, as we moved to Alabama, but when I moved out of the house I didn’t know what had happened to it.  A few years ago I was talking to my dad about all of the shells and teeth we had collected all of those years ago and asked him what had happened to them.  Then I brought up the Megalodon tooth.  He had it. He knew where it was.  A few minutes later, he carried a triple ply plastic grocery bag full of shells, and fossils, and teeth out on the dining table and I searched through it.   There, at the bottom of the bag, was the tooth. I laughed at how it looked so much smaller now that I was an adult, but fell in love again, felt that excitement I felt the first time I saw it and knew I’d keep it forever.



Aunt Eileen and Aunt Mary Katherine made things, mostly elaborate Christmas decorations, art from firmly detailed directions, and the only peanut butter fudge I’ve ever loved. But, it was the precious night capped mice sleeping in a sardine can that tickled my soul. I’ve always had a bit of an affinity for little things tucked into uncommon places, animals personified, food containers repurposed and given new magical life. Once, I crafted grape sized pottery from a deconstructed lint remover, then buried them in the yard hoping archeologists would one day think they’d discovered a lost miniature society. Always giving it away or exploring the ephemeral. On several occasions I created private performances (what I did not know at the time was probably performance art) from albums that magically found their way into my life like, Bat out of Hell & Sgt. Pepper. There were thousands of sandcastles, mud pies, and doodles for nobody, but I sure would like that little mouse bed, now. An incontrollable expression of strange decorated my solitude, and somehow, those palm sized mice tucked into a bed made of tin, felt, and found things embodied a tiny thing extra special in me.



I was not particularly attached to things as a child.  I loved my Beatles albums, record player, and transistor radio.  The love and appreciation of music trumped everything else.  Not many things survived my childhood, but that did.  I grew up loving all genres of music.  I was a loner and stayed in my room listening to music and reading books.  We were poor, and material things were not available to us.  I look around my house now, full of THINGS, so different from how I grew up, and I realize that things were just not part of our lives.  We had basic toys, like dolls, bikes, and games, but nothing out of the ordinary.  We survived without all the extras just fine.  In fact, I didn’t know what I was missing until I reached adulthood and started listening to everyone else’s stories.

My sister and I were loved.  Our parents were not perfect, by far, but they loved and protected us.  All of our needs were met.  We had clothes, food, a warm home, and minimal life experiences.  Our parents came from very poor and uneducated backgrounds, and they did the best they could by us.  There were no frills, but we survived that.  They weren’t fluff parents, but we had the basics  We weren’t lacking for anything.

We had a large extended family who loved us very much.  We spent a lot of time with them, and experienced security and acceptance by them as well.  They gave us quality time, and lots of it..  We were all poor, but we were sheltered and protected by our family members. I have very fond memories of all of them, which I wouldn’t trade for the world.,

I can’t say I had anything of great value in tangible belongings,, but I grew up knowing I was loved and safe in a protected environment.

Love is still my most precious possession.  I have love to give, and I am open to receiving love.


{featured image:  a day in the life}

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