A few days after her passing, my brother and I were assigned to go through Grandma’s things in her room- to see if anything was to be given away. Dave and Grandma weren’t close and so he left me by myself, to meet up with his friend- instead of helping me. I sat down on what was once Grandma’s rocking chair. I remember she used to love spending her afternoons, sitting in that chair, and reading. Sometimes, she would even doze off.
I started going through a few things in the room. At first, a few magazines, newspapers, story books, and even a couple of prayer books. Grandma would never go a day without praying. “The Lord is my everything”, she would often say. Since I was a child, I didn’t quite understand what she meant by that, but I never questioned her.
Grandpa died a few years after my dad- their only son- was born. So, Grandma being extremely young, dedicated her life to her work and raising her son. Grandma was a very strong woman and I always admired her. I still do, and always will.
I made a stack of Grandma’s old magazines and newspapers, to give away. Just as I picked up the pile, a wooden box caught my eye. It wasn’t very small, neither was it too big. How had I not seen it before? I used to spend a lot of my time in Grandma’s room. Setting the pile back down on the ground, I reached out beside Grandma’s pillow and picked up the box. Curious to know what was inside this “mysterious-looking box”, I gave it a few shakes. It sounded like a bunch of papers and something else- but I couldn’t quite make out what it was.
I thought about not opening the box, because it was Grandma’s and I must respect her privacy. But my curiosity got the best of me and I opened the box.
Inside, there were a number of things- a book that looked like an old diary, a few old-timey polaroids, two movie stubs and a locket that looked very old and was covered in rust.
Immediately, I opened the locket to find pictures of two women inside. One of them was my dear Grandma Dot, but the other was someone I had never seen before. As I stared at the two pictures, my mother yelled, asking if I was done with the work she had given me. I picked up the pile of books and put them into a carton, carrying it out onto our porch. I rushed back up to Grandma's room and grabbed the wooden box too- taking it to my room. I quickly hid it underneath my bed, just in case anyone else found it.
Dave returned home just in time for dinner. After my homework was done, I bounded down the stairs, joining Mom, Dad and Dave for dinner. Once dinner was done, I rushed up to my room, feeling excited about opening the box under my bed.
I sat on my bed and set the box down in front of me. On opening it, I pulled out the locket and kept it aside, now more interested in what else was in the box. I took out the old journal inside and opened it to a random page. I felt guilty for reading what was supposed to Grandma's personal thoughts, but what could I do? I was a child who was extremely curious about nearly everything under the sun.
What I read was an entry of "Sunday, 15th April 1962". "Today, Mother, Father, Pearl and I went to the Johnsons' across the street, for lunch. When we came back to our home, Pearl told me that she thinks Billy Johnson is cute. I didn't believe Pearl, but when I realized she was joking, we both laughed so hard, our stomachs started to hurt. Everyone in town knows- Billy Johnson is not cute", the journal read. I smiled as I read the entry. Grandma must have been fourteen years old when she had written this.
I skipped a few pages and stopped when I found a handwritten letter in between two pages. The letter was addressed to "Dottie" and the sender's name was- "Pearl". The date on the letter was from about 45 years ago. As I read the letter, I realized that it was a letter of apology- someone named Pearl, apologizing to my Grandma Dot.
"Who was this Pearl?" I wondered. I set the journal down and picked up a few pictures that were in the box. One of the pictures was of two young girls- who looked very happy and had wide smiles on their faces. I flipped the picture around to see the words "Pearl's 18th birthday. June 5th 1964" written behind the picture. There were few more pictures of my Grandma and "Pearl". After seeing all the pictures, I was now sure that the other person in the locket- was Pearl. I really wanted to know who "Pearl" was. How had I never heard of her? It seemed like she was an active part of my Grandma's life for many years. There were pictures of them both together, right from being babies to when they were in their 20s.
I really wanted to know more about Pearl, so I tucked the box away and went to my parents' room. I asked my Mom and Dad if they had ever heard of someone named "Pearl". But they seemed to know nothing about her.
Disappointed, I went back to my room and pulled out the box once again. I opened the journal, trying to find some clues about who Pearl might be. But what I found between the last page and the cover was an unsent letter from my Grandma- to Pearl.
"My son- James, and daughter-in-law just had their first baby. It's a boy. We have named him Dave, after Dad. I can't believe I am now a grandmother. Oh, how time flies", part of the letter read. "How are you, Pearl? I miss you. What happened was a long time ago, and I forgive you for it" the letter continued. The letter was dated to 18 years ago- which was when my older brother Dave was born.