Treasures

We call them treasures. The old glass medicine bottles left in burial “mounds” all around the farm, some tiny, some quite amazing with names like “Dr King’s Pills” and “Dr. August Koenigs Hamburger Tropfen.” Loosely translated, I believe this could mean Dr. August King’s Hamburg drops. I adore these little bottles, putting them on my windowsills and displaying pretty posies in each one. Now that it is September, there are  Black-eyed Susans reminding me of summer’s last hurrah.

There are other treasures abounding on the Kennedy farm, the value of which I became keenly aware after a conversation with my sister yesterday.

One of my greatest delights is picking out gifts for my nieces and nephews on their birthdays. Oh, I also have this pleasure with my own girls, but since they are grown, I find that the younger ones still show real enthusiasm whenever a gift is presented. In other words, I just might get kisses and loving from them if I hit a home run with their gifts!

So, a few weeks before B’s ninth birthday, I asked my sister for the list. B is one for lists. For him, the birthday list becomes the Christmas list which morphs back into the birthday list. This year he asked for a few of the latest toys, small but newly on the market. Then he requested Dominoes. “Humm,” I pondered to her. “Do you think he would like the double six, eight, or twelve?” She said it didn’t matter. He just wanted to line them up in rows and then knock them down. Baseball cards. Now that’s a healthy, old-fashioned gift! Though I was not up on boys’ toys, I thought the list sounded pretty easy.

Then she added one more thing, “Fossils.”

“Fossils?” I repeated, somewhat caught off guard.

“Yeah, you know. What we called Indian money and stuff. Rocks. He’s fascinated with anything that might have a history.”

“We have that covered,” I said, eyeing my favorite rock treasure on my windowsill. “Have we got the fossils for him!”

I picked up what must’ve been a hollow, round, rock before someone or something broke it perfectly in half and turned it so that the light glinted off the facets of the quartz crystals inside. I once imagined making a tiny clay creche like one of my sister’s boys made her inside a strawberry basket. I loved this rock and sometimes dropped my jewelry into into it temporarily when I washed my hands in the nearby sink. I knew it had to go to B as much as I loved it and wanted to keep it.

A few days after B’s party, my sister asked B if he saw where she had arranged his fossils on his display shelf in his room. Altogether we had gathered for him an arrowhead with a small chipped point; some Indian money; a round rock and a finger-shaped rock with a rounded out end, neither of which we could figure out; and that half-ball quartz rock about the size of a grapefruit. B said that he had indeed seen where she had placed his rocks, but that he had since hidden them.

“Why did you hide them?” she asked him curiously.

“Mom, he answered, “if any robbers break into the house, these will be the first things they want to steal. There is no money in this house more valuable than that crystal rock.”

My sister was laughing when she told me. I, too, laughed, but I also shed a tear and had goose bumps on my legs. She said he believes it is up there with diamonds on the value scale, even after finding out that the crystals were in fact quartz. I asked her if she would tell him the truth; that it was a worthless rock. She said, “No! Let him enjoy his treasures as long as he can.” She said when people visit, he slips up into his room, retrieves his crystal rock from its hiding place, tells them with wide eyes that his Aunt Emily actually found this rock on her farm, and then returns the rock to its secret spot.

K and I can’t wait to take him treasure hunting around the farm. We hope to find him a full turtleshell like we found for our friends, more arrowheads, and certainly more interesting rocks. He can take it all with him too, for he values things as we value them.

Mostly, he values me for what I shared with him. To me, that is priceless.

Epilogue: B and his friend as narrated by my sister, M:

B: “I want to show you where my new rock is.”

Friend: “Whoa! You could sell that for a lot of money.”

B: “I would never sell that rock! That was my aunt’s treasure. I kind of feel bad for taking it from her.”

My sister then added, “It was the sweetest conversation. Now they are scared of robbers, so I have to go sit with them til they fall asleep.”

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    Emily

    I think you are right! He is a very intuitive and introspective child. Has been since he was very small. I tell my sister all the time to write down the things he says. So many stories I have wanted to share but have hesitated because she is very private. I decided that when these stories represent goodness and rightness in the world, I will share them in a way that keeps them anonymous to a degree.

    I hope to share my shells with B next. I may write a story about the different inhabitants that pass through their confines. I hope you will post photos of the ones you find. I am envious of your proximity to these treasures from the sea.

    Thank you for commenting!

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