Once again my mother made some memorable choices regarding a birthday gift this year. First she told me she was giving me something she’d found in the basement that I had originally bought for myself. After getting me excited by the prospect of regifting squared, she then admitted she couldn’t find the gift. When she finally found it, she handed me an old Madeleine L’Engle book. Compared to some of our other gifting adventures, not a bad present.
The night before I had gotten a few other treats when my father brought out some of my savings bonds. I was skeptical about their value, but discovered online that after thirdy years I was about to enjoy a little payola.
The bonds were still in the gift envelopes bearing the names of two pair of my mother’s aunts and uncles. I have no memories of the uncles – they died between my baptism, for which I was given the bonds, and my First Communion. I would see the aunts a few times a year. They loved my mother and were good to me. One lived in a cute condo on the other side of the river and would have us over once a summer. The food was great and the family stories were better. She kept a small electronic organ in her living room.
The other aunt lived a bit farther and we saw her less. She was Belgian-born, clever and handy, and once told me to remind my father that he wasn’t the only mechanic (with her accent, “mechanique”) in the family. Both of these women died in recent years, taking with them some of the history of my grandparents’ generation, but leaving behind something more important than that. And I’m not talking about interest on savings bonds.
It matters to me that these women loved me. It matters to me that they were praying for me when I was christened, and that they may be praying for me even now. I am lucky to have come from a family that has taught me the power of bonds of love. People I don’t remember, people I didn’t know, loved the people who loved me. My soul is improved by their deposits in our shared treasury of merit. I plan to put my return from the US Treasury to good use, but the best part of this gift was to be reminded of the bonds that really matter.