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The power of keepsakes

When I was a little girl, one of the most vivid memories I had growing up was when my dad would come home at the end of the day after work. He’d breeze past my bedroom on the way to his, greet me with his characteristic, “Hi, my darling!” then, he would walk to his room.


Once inside, the first thing he’d do was fish the car keys out of his pants pocket and drop them into a half-coconut-shell container that he kept on his bureau. The shell was smoothed and hollowed-out, and made a great keeper of knick-knacks. I remember it would make a very distinctive sound – as the metal of the keys made contact with the shell.


It was a comforting sound to me, living in the cocoon that was my childhood.

Last night, I drove over to my mom’s house to pick her up for our once weekly “bereavement support group” held at our church. I arrived at her house early, so I hung out in her bedroom as she got ready, poking through some of my dad’s things she had begun sorting through. There were fragments of his life – pieces of a broken rosary. An old wristwatch. A traveling alarm clock. Many Notre Dame baseball caps.


As I prepared to open a storage bag of his belongings, I heard my mom say, “I think his coconut shell is in there,” (Leave it to my mom to remember it held a special place in my heart.) As I looked inside the bag, I found it almost instantly. I held the round, smooth shape in the palm of my hand. It felt cool to the touch, and I paused as a slideshow of memories went through my mind.


I heard my mom say, “You can keep it.” I looked at her and she smiled. I placed it gingerly in my purse.

I brought my new treasure home and placed it upon my bureau.

I have a new place to hold my keys.


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About me: A national award-winning storyteller who is passionate about using story as a vehicle to turn and heal hearts, Teresa Clark has spent over twenty years practicing her craft with at-risk youth, women, the aged, and families. Teresa has passi… Read More


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