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Rose and Corsage

I have spent days amid boxes of family memorabilia, the aftermath of cleaning out the storage locker. The boxes were taken from my mother's apartment when she died a decade ago; I thought I knew the the contents, but there were surprises.

I found this envelope; the date is my birth. I opened it to find a second enclosure-sized envelope, and inside, a pressed rose:


The surprise was not that Dad, a man of courtly gestures, had sent his newborn roses, but that, over seventy years later, the bloom was still red; in that tiny envelope, time had stopped. I took a photo to commemorate its startling scarlet, then discarded the now-exposed fragment, along with yellowed news clippings, hand-drawn birthday cards, locks of baby hair: the things a mother saves.

Each box summoned benevolent ghosts—but for the next generation, the erosion of memory will dismiss them. What might have meaning when my children "go through Mama's things"? I kept Eleanor Roosevelt's invitation to te…

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