Booklet with Memory Box

Booklet with wooden box
Booklet with wooden box

 My maternal great-grandmother died when my Nana was an infant. Nana and her widowed father left the South, and migrated to New York. As she grew into adulthood, keeping family close was an expression of love and provided a sense of security. Nana encouraged her daughters to strive for the college education that was unattainable for her, and they both graduated from Hunter College in the 1960’s. 
Two decades later, when I announced my acceptance to Vassar, Nana said, “Why would you want to leave us? There are schools here in NYC.” Poughkeepsie might as well have been another planet. It took her quite a while for her to warm up to the idea, but for my 18th birthday that  summer before starting college , she surprised me with a gift I still treasure today: a carved wooden box with a booklet inside that she and my aunt customized for me with messages of love and reminders to make healthy choices, prioritize my studies, choose good friends, and remember to call home. There was even a little envelope for an “emergency fund”. I kept the box with the booklet inside throughout my college years, and it returned home with me once I graduated. Over time, little mementos started to fill it. When Nana passed away suddenly in 1986, more of the mementos stored inside it were about her. 
My daughter was born nearly 10 years later, and she is named after my grandmother. I wish Nana could have met the more mature me, and her namesake, but I am so glad that I have had her love with me all my life. When  I need a reminder, I  just open my precious box.  

Place(s): New York City, Poughkeepsie, Southern United States

– Alisa Martin

Relationship:  Grandchild of im/migrant Grandchild of im/migrant