The Rose Trunk
Like my Mother before me and her Mother before her, on my 21st birthday I inherited my Great Grandmother Alice’s Rose Trunk. I was given the ornate key to the trunk and a yellowing note written in old fashioned, flowing script.
To My Daughter,
Now that you’re a women, my Rose Trunk is yours. Pass it on to your first born Daughter and she to hers. It is a link to your past and I pray the link will never be broken. I have traveled the path you have yet to walk…through marriage, family, intimacy and motherhood. To find true happiness in all these things, laugh as much as possible and don’t take life to seriously. Remember I love you.
Early the next morning I crept up to the attic to claim my treasure. Grandmother’s beautiful cherry wood trunk sat beneath the attic window, a shaft of sunlight highlighting the hand painted roses that adorned the lid. Dust motes floated in the sunshine casting the corner in a warm, mellow glow. Beside the trunk stood a full-length Cheval mirror, as if waiting for Grandmother’s return.
I sat in the sunlight and gently turned the key in the lock and lifted the lid. A faint scent of roses greeted me and brought a smile to my face. Inside was a trunk full of the most marvelously preserved vintage clothing. There were bloomers, corsets, and night gowns trimmed in dainty lace. Fitted bodices with puffy sleeves and soft, flowing skirts. Tiny French kid open toed slippers decorated with roses, long white gloves, and a feathered fan tucked into a side pocket. At the very bottom was a navy blue seaside canvas jacket and skirt with a satin yellow vest and matching yellow straw hat.
One dress seemed more prized then the others for it was carefully wrapped in a length of rose silk and fastened with an ivory broach. Inside the package was a white dress dotted with tiny rose buds whose pattern was vintage when Alice was a girl. The dress was light as a feather, with a red satin belt that trailed down the back in ribbons. I can see why Grandmother loved this dress. It was so delicate and charming it brought tears to my eyes.
Tucked in the pocket was a heart shaped gold locket. I opened it to find a young couple holding hands, so obviously in love. This must have been my Great Grandmother and Great Grandfather before he went off to war. I was surprised to see she looked a lot like me.
I posed before the mirror, the delicate rosebud dress pressed to my body. I pictured myself dancing with a handsome stranger. I glanced down for a moment, laughing at my bare feet peaking out from under this elegant dress. I looked up into the mirror and there in a cloudy mist stood my Great Grandmother Alice wearing the rosebud dress…smiling, swaying and twirling to some unheard music. Her voice whispered softly, “This is my favorite dress. Thank you Daughter for this moment.” She adjusted the bow in her hair, looked into my eyes and was gone.
As I arrived for dinner the following Sunday my Mother and Grandmother pulled me into the kitchen asking, “Did you see her? Did you see Grandmother Alice?”
By Jane Johnson