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  • by Carolyn Lackey

Crown Jewels

But first...many of you have tentatively asked how Meems is doing. I say "tentatively" because it's been a while since my last update, and, sometimes the enquirer will ask with a look that says, "Did she die and I missed the post?" Fear not. You have missed nothing. Meems is still here. She is still being waited on hand and a princess.

I believed in Santa Claus for longer than I'd care to admit. I'd grew up watching black and white TV, but my brain meandered through each day with imaginative, technicolor thoughts and ideas. It was not outside the realm of possibility in my 8-year-old daily existence that Paul McCartney might swing by our house on East Neal Street in Carthage especially to meet me. I never ruled out the possibility that if I jumped off of a roof and flapped my arms with all of my might, I might begin to soar like a graceful blue bird high above the neighborhood. In my daydreams, the neighborhood kids would jump on their banana bikes and follow my path cheering all the while. I also had a sneaky suspicion that my mother was secretly a princess. No, seriously. I had what I considered to be absolute, positive proof of her regal beginnings: her crown jewels.

As most little girls do, I loved rummaging around in the top drawer of her low three-drawer Henredon dresser. The dresser itself had fancy pulls and the drawers slid in and out in the most silky smooth way unlike the unfinished wood dresser in my room that my mother had painted white. Its drawers were quite persnickety, complaining with a scraping sound upon being the least bit disturbed. If you got off to a bad start when simply trying to retrieve a pair of day-of-the-week panties, the panty drawer would turn a bit crooked daring you to try to stuff it back into the yawning cavity of the dresser. The Henredon dresser was a gentile, welcoming piece of furniture that whispered "hello" as you tugged on it's fancy drop bail pulls. Once open, the pulls would fall back in place with a satisfying "dit-it-tit-tit," a drum roll portending the cache of treasures tucked within.

Considering the fastidious storage of each bobble and bangle, my mother was surprisingly accommodating when I asked if I could explore her jewelry drawer. The drawer itself was filled with the original white boxes that each piece was carefully placed in by the dress shop saleslady the day it came home to settle in amongst the vast collection of jewels. Each box was labeled: "coral beads - gift from Jimmy," "emerald necklace and earrings," "daisy bracelet and earrings." Her one request was that I carefully put everything back the exact way she had it. I tried. God knows I tried.

Some of the department store white gift boxes belied the value of the contents tucked within. Those were the boxes that were most sought out during my summer afternoon imaginings as I stood there before the Henredon dresser. Tucked in those boxes was proof positive that my mother was once a princess from some faraway land.

Grace Kelly married Prince Rainier the year in 1956. On her wedding day this blonde beauty from Philly became a princess. Mom was a girl from Nacogdoches (TX). She was as pretty as Grace Kelly. I grew up alongside Princess Caroline of Monaco who was born on January 23, 1957. I was born on March 3, 1957. I was named Carolyn. I thought that the similarities were a bit uncanny.

My father was in no way, shape or form a prince. But then, there were the jewels. The lovely, lovely jewels. Only a princess could have such treasure carefully tucked away in little labeled white boxes in the top drawer of her Henredon dresser.

I have become the self-appointed Keeper of the Crown Jewels. To this day, they sparkle and shine and warm my heart. And, to this day, I believe that somehow, somewhere, my mother was crowned the princess of something. She was, indeed, the Princess of 400 East Neal Street.

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