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Saturday, March 17, 2018
Article written by Helen Brown

The Jewelry Drawer

Funny how families are like food chains. All the toys and clothes that don’t fall apart or break filter through from older siblings to the youngest.

The theory extends to bedrooms and furniture. The day our older daughter moved out to go flatting, the 13 year old claimed her big sister’s bedroom. I could understand why. The teenager’s “new” bedroom has a view over the garden instead of rubbish tins and the flats next door.

To encourage the move (and limit potential grief at being the only child left at home) I let her have a new dressing table. Well, not exactly new. My chest of drawers had become so battered, I could no longer pretend the scratch marks were deliberate, high fashion “distressing”.

Our daughter was delighted to inherit my old chest of drawers because she’d always thought they were posh (and didn’t notice the scratches). They certainly are smarter than the horrid chipboard dressing table her older sister passed on to her 10 years ago.

Worst thing about it was the task of emptying my old chest of drawers. There was no problem with the clothes. Half of them stank and needed chucking. What was a woman who refuses to go anywhere without fluffy towels and central heating doing with mountaineering thermal underwear anyway?

The jewellery drawer was another matter. Don’t get me wrong. The fact I have a designated jewellery drawer doesn’t mean I own a lot of jewels. It just means I’m incapable of throwing away anything that might have sentimental value. Such as : 1) A cardboard badge decorated with uncooked macaroni. The macaroni was daubed with gold paint to give it an expensive sheen before being glued on to the badge secured with a safety pin. While I can’t remember exactly where it came from, it probably has something to do with the - 2) Handmade Mother’s Day card with a stick figure drawing on the front and drunken letters inside saying “love from Your Daughter”. Next to the card I discover - 3) My old clip-on sunglasses, bought back in the 80’s with great triumph, knowing I’d never again have to buy ophthalmic sunglasses - until I took the clip-on sunglasses home and was laughed under the kitchen table by the entire family.

I’d secreted them away waiting for the day clip-on sunglasses take the world by storm. It’s probably safe to throw them in the bin now – even though they’re a perfect match for the – 4) Dame Edna spectacles circa 1977. Honestly. Whatever possessed me to buy them with their swooping silver eyebrows? Must’ve been under the influence of illegal pharmaceuticals. Or did everyone look that daggy once?

I bin them along with the pocket calculator in its chipped gold case (from the days when everyone thought calculators were magical) and the –

5) Mahogany coloured lipstick. Whoever made me imagine dark brown lipstick is fabulous? Some of those girls who work behind beauty counters should be arrested. Scrabbling at the bottom of the drawer I discover -

6) A baby’s tooth. My spine turns to Playdoh as I hold the tiny pearl in my palm. My jewellery drawer must’ve doubled as the tooth fairy’s stash. There are two more teeth in the drawer, too precious to throw out but not pretty enough to be turned into earrings. Other things are easier to toss -

7) A rusted key, a small plastic doll’s brush, an Anzac Day badge, various buttons and safety pins. I’m less certain what to do with the -

8) Wiggly Woo tape. “Let’s All Do the Wiggly Woo” was the only thing that kept our younger daughter quiet in the car when she was three years old. I put it aside in case she wants to hear it again. She probably won’t remember it.

Deeper in the drawer I discover more manifested memories. I long to see them because they belonged to people I loved, yet each one of them plunges a skewer in my heart: a dress ring that belonged to a beloved aunt; chunky necklaces Mum looked great in but nobody has been able to wear with her aplomb since; Dad’s old watch; a plastic tiki, the last gift received from a child before he suddenly died.

Impossible to throw away, these relics are placed in their own special box. Perhaps one day, someone will glance at them, assume they have no value and toss them away. By then I too will have left this planet.
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