Posted by: deadmousediaries | October 2, 2012

News from the Path Valley Hotel, Episode #42 – Second-Hand Treasure

The opening of a new thrift store near the PVH is going to make a great addition to our travel brochure (heading: Nearby Points of Interest).  Second-hand shopping is about the thrill of the hunt, especially if you’re locked and loaded but aren’t quite sure what you might encounter. It’s great to find an amazing buy that’s just too good to pass up but the best finds are the unexpected treasures that lie hiding on the bottom shelves.

I have already shared a picture of my first purchase from our new thrift store but that was not my most amazing find to date. That title belongs to a little red satin treasure box in the shape of heart. It was marked $ .50;  it was in great shape and I knew I could recycle it as a kitschy gift box later. (What’s not to love? ) I was surprised to find the real prize revealed when I opened the lid and a little sliver of red construction paper fluttered out. In beautiful feminine hand someone had written: “A woman who always tried her very best.”  Hmmm.

The box was filled with little scraps of handwritten notes, 27 of them to be exact. Each one had been written in the same neat handwriting and cut into odd shapes from red and blue paper. When I got home, I laid them out on my table and realized I was reading another woman’s notes to her mother.  The box had been a gift, no doubt, for Mother’s Day, or maybe a special birthday celebration.

The brief messages began to reveal defining qualities about a woman I had never met: “A woman of substance” was written on one piece. Another read: “Someone who had a lot to overcome throughout her lifetime.” The first blue snippet I pulled from the jumble stated: “A mother who became 2 parents, doing the job of two when it wasn’t fashionable or accepted.” Then there was the lighter side: “Someone who made me many tea parties and many cups of tea.” The final message nestled in the bottom was my favorite: “Someone who put pickles in with my sandwiches for lunch and cream cheese in my celery sticks.” No matter how old we get, the little things are remembered.

I wondered about these two women, the daughter and her mother. What had happened to them that the box was now in my hands with all these personal notes inside? I could imagine several situations, none of which left the two of them both well and still connected. Surely someone who cared about the two of  them would have removed the contents before abandoning their heart and sending it out among strangers.

I spent a little time that night reflecting on the generations of mothers who preceded me in my own family and I wondered what the women I knew as great- and grandmothers would have had to say about their mothers when they were simply daughters. I wish I had the details of all those stories for the PVH family album. For now, I will just have to use my imagination; it is the license of the storyteller.

My mother as a beautiful, young college student.

My maternal grandmother.

My maternal great-grandmother.

My great-great maternal grandmother.



  1. There is no such thing as coincidence……..the chances of you finding such a treasure……….someone who appreciates the snippits and can share a tale to make us all stop and reflect. Thanks!

  2. Another wonderful story, my dear friend! Thanks for sharing the photos too. I will always cherish my very special Mother. I was blessed because I was loved and cared for while Mom was here. I miss her so much, but am able to deal with the loss because I have my memories and wonderful pictures. Thank you!

    • Thanks, Sue. I know you miss your mom and that helps me remember how fortunate I am to still have mine.

  3. Wow. Flat Stanley only knew her mother, and not very well, and has no pictures of her mother or her mother’s generation. What an amazingly different experience it must be to have your connections so strongly tied to your sense of self! And the note box, what a treat, what a treasure!

    • We both have stories, though, don’t we. (I know, you have shared some of yours.) I do sometimes feel like I lived a charmed life to have had so many good, strong women in my family.

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