Carmen was an only child of a wealthy couple. Her father was a bank manager and her mother stayed home to keep house. They lived in a big house with a beautiful garden. Carmen’s favorite place was her room and though Carmen had a nanny, it was her mother who tucks her to bed every night. Carmen was surrounded by love and affection so she grew up a loving and caring child. She loved her father, he mother, her nanny and her grandfather who lived with them and who slept at the room next to hers.
Grandpa was a very old man. He was thin and frail and could barely walk. But his eyes were bright and he could tell the most wonderful stories. He had several books which he couldn’t read anymore and he had an old wooden box filled with his prized possessions.
Carmen loved staying at Grandpa’s room. He would show her his box and bring out the contents one by one. Each content had a very nice story that went with it. First of which was a picture of Carmen’s grandma who was long gone. The picture was taken when Grandma was crowned the most beautiful girl in town and grandpa was chosen to be his escort, that was the first time they met. Then, another one was an old pen which was a gift to grandpa from the mayor of the town who became one of the presidents of the country. There were more but those two were Carmen’s favorites.
One day, Carmen asked Grandpa why he still kept those and Grandpa answered..
“Memories are the summary of what your life had been. So, the more memories you have, the more meaningful you had lived..”
Carmen couldn’t understand it then. But when Grandpa died, she found it natural to bury his wooden box with him.
Though Carmen loved her grandfather so much, she soon got over her grief and became a cheerful and loving girl again. Hers was a happy childhood until tragedy struck.
Carmen’s father died in a car crash leaving her and her mother to fend for themselves. To make both ends meet, Mother had to work. She wouldn’t touch the money Father left. She was saving it for Carmen’s education. Every day, mother left for work leaving Carmen with Nanny then she would arrive home very tired at night.
Carmen missed her father. But she knew he was gone and he was never coming back. So, one day, she took his father’s old pipe from her parents’ room. Every night, she would hold the pipe in her hands. She felt as if her father was there and she would fall asleep.
Though Mother was working hard, it was difficult to maintain the big house. So, she decided to sell it. She also decided to let Nanny go, after all, Carmen has already grown. Though it broke Carmen’s heart to leave their old house, she knew it was necessary. It was also difficult to part with Nanny who took care of her since she was a baby. But Nanny she said everything was going to be alright.
On their first night in the new house, Carmen wept. She held in one hand her father’s old pipe and a capiz shell in the other. The capiz shell was from the window of their old house. It fell off a few months ago and no one noticed except Carmen. It reminded her of her old bedroom. Carmen cried herself to sleep but in the morning, she got up, put the pipe and the capiz shell in a tin can Nanny gave her. The tin can was Nanny’s. Carmen remembered the last time Father came home from his travels. He handed Nanny a can of delicious Danish cookies. She even helped Nanny eat the cookies but she didn’t know that Nanny kept the tin can, and now Carmen was happy she did.
Carmen and Mother moved on and lived a simple and quiet life. Though life was difficult, they were happy and grateful to have each other. She went to high school, then college and met Antonio. Antonio was the nicest guy she’s ever been with and the best friend she’s ever got. But after college, Antonio had to leave to join his parents abroad. With a promise to come back for her, Antonio left Carmen with a nice locket with his picture inside which Carmen kept in her tin can together with her father’s pipe, the capiz shell, her medal for winning in a poetry contest in high school, a sash for winning a beauty contest and several other mementoes she collected in college.
With the hope of reuniting with Antonio, Carmen stayed faithful and hopeful. Then, her mother died leaving her all alone. Carmen’s grief was overwhelming. She took a month off from work and stayed in bed, getting up only when she got hungry which seldom happens.
Staring up at the ceiling, Carmen wondered how she was going to make it through. Then, she remembered Grandpa’s frail and bony hands and bright and twinkling eyes. Memories…
She reached out for her old tin can and spread the contents in her bed. She touched her father’s pipe and remembered her father. How strong and smart he was. How he carried her on his back and how proud he was when she read a book for him for the first. Then, she remembered their old house, the beautiful garden with a swing. She remembered Nanny giving her warm milk before she went to bed. She remembered high school and how proud her teachers were of her when she bagged the first place for the poetry writing contest. She remembered Antonio and his promise to come back for her. Then, as her eyes caught the jade bracelet Mother gave her, she remembered her sweet and brave mother. How proud Mother was of her, not because of her awards, but for everything she was and she felt brave. The more memories you have, the more meaningful your life had been…
The following day, as Carmen got up to start a brand new day, she heard loud knocks on the door. She opened it and found her face to face with Antonio who came back for her as he promised.
(Original story by the blog author. Any similarities with other stories, fiction or otherwise, are purely incidental.)