Here’s chapter three from Your Life a Legacy – Your Satchel & Steamer Trunk Stories. Enjoy!
Grandma’s satchel held the things that mattered most.
When we were kids, our grandma Joy came to visit for a few days at a time a couple of times a year. She rode a Jefferson Lines bus from Worthington to Rochester, Minnesota. We’d go to the old depot to meet her, and I loved watching her get off the bus dressed up for her trip to us. She always wore a pretty dress, a hat, and sometimes gloves. She carried her handbag and her satchel. The cloth bag (pictured above) was made from old drapes and held the things she felt were most important for her journey. My brother and I knew the contents: her Bible, a pen, and notepad, sometimes a hymnal, and a roll of Life Savers candy.
Also tucked into that bag were small gifts for him and me. Perhaps an extra roll of candy for him and a pen or a little Rainbow Tablet for me; treasures purchased at her local Ben Franklin store. Each item was simple, but important to us and delivered by the woman we loved so much.
If she had been asked to pick one thing from her satchel that mattered most, without hesitation, she would have chosen her Bible.
Everyone who knew her knew that. That big, old, Book held His story, and everything in her life from the age of twenty-eight was firmly and tenderly connected to it.
In all of our lives, there is, at least, one story that stands out – it’s the one we not only want to record – but it’s the one we hope will be remembered after we’re gone.
Your Satchel Story is the memory so valuable that if you only had time to preserve one life experience, this would be it.
Here’s a writing tip that might help: When you get ready to write the raw draft of this memory write fast including what you felt and describe any physical responses you had. Is there a picture of you at that age you’d like to add to the story? Now, take a day or so away from the story. Let the details less easily recalled come back over time. Add them to your Legacy as they come.
As you remember and write, you may discover other stories of equal and lesser value you may also want to explore. Write them down where you can find them later. Index cards are inexpensive and excellent idea catchers.
Sometimes you know what your Satchel Story is, but you’re not ready to write it. That’s okay. You may be in a pondering phase, but please, don’t wait so long you don’t write it.
I am sometimes asked, “How can I be sure which story is my Satchel Story?” My answer is: “You’ll know.”
Once this memory is preserved, those other life stories might start coming at you like arrows deftly released from a professional archer.
These other stories are valuable to your Legacy but don’t create the same urgency in your heart. These are your Steamer Trunk Stories.
When I was a little girl, we had an old steamer trunk where we stored rarely used belongings. We left it behind in one of our moves. Silly as this sounds, I visited the trunk one last time to say goodbye. It had come across the ocean holding the possessions of long-gone relatives. I used to dream I’d find a secret compartment hiding old family treasures, and wished it could tell me about its owners and the things it carried from Norway to America. Even empty, the trunk was a place a girl could fill with daydreams.
I’ve been told people packed their steamer trunks with necessities which often included vegetable and flower seeds, but who also stuck in a valuable item or two: a single teacup, a piece of jewelry, a family Bible, love letters tied with a ribbon, or a photo of a loved one – a mosaic of necessities and treasures.
Your life stories will likely be a similar mix – a little of this and that with the power to teach, entertain, surprise, and enrich the lives of those who read them.
Your Story Matters!
One of my favorite stories is Mama’s, Satchel Story. Before dementia stole her from us completely, she gave me permission to share it with you. Because as she lost her memories, this was the one that mattered most to her. To read Ruth’s Prayer, click the photo.