Passing on a Family Heirloom

A few years ago, when my parents passed, we were going through my childhood home and I came across a small white box that was taped shut on the sides. Upon opening it, I found a beautiful rosary with black wooden beads and a note in my grandmother’s handwriting that read “This rosary is 65 years old. Aunt Carrie gave it to me for helping Harold with his homework.” I knew what I had to do.

For those of you from my hometown, my childhood friend Chris, is the nephew of the beloved drug store owner Harold Sutter. His mother was Ruth Pleyer from Bynumville, so he has Salisbury roots from both his mother and father’s side. My connection to Chris, is that his dad and Harold were first cousins to my grandma Gertie.

When we were growing up, Chris used to come to Salisbury during the summer for an extended stay with his uncle Harold and to visit other family members. We were the same age, and it was during that time that we would get together for an afternoon or two. Life and time would pass and for a while we lost track of each other.

Coincidentally, after college and marriages and kids and jobs and relocations, Chris and I both ended up in Lee’s Summit, MO in the same church parish with our kids in the same school. It was so fun to reconnect, and our kids adored each other. Unfortunately, Chris and his family were only there for a short time before he was transferred, but this time we kept in touch through Christmas cards and we even visited them once when we were in Miami.

Chris and his wife now live in Charlotte, NC, my husband’s hometown, where we visit a few times a year. This weekend we were able to meet up for lunch and to catch up, and I was able to give Chris something I felt belonged to him; the rosary. You see, my grandmother’s “Aunt Carrie” was Chris’s grandmother and the rosary should be passed on to his children and grandchildren.

I’m not 100% certain when my grandmother wrote the note, but it must be somewhere around 30 years ago, which would make the rosary approximately 95 years old now. I’m so grateful to her for leaving it, so we know the story of where it came from. Honestly, it was hard for me to part with such a special gift. It wasn’t just the rosary itself, I know how much my grandmother adored her Aunt Carrie as I heard so many stories about her when I was growing up. I held it in my hands one last time before I passed it on, and thought about the faith it signifies and the loving hands that held it before me. I have to think that my Great, Great, Aunt Carrie is smiling from above, knowing that the rosary is now in the hands of her grandson.

Family. There’s nothing like it.

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