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His Suitcase


His Suitcase
Beth Russell


He was loved by many, trusted by most and liked by all. He was known as a great man and that is how we should remember him. Amen.

‘Amen,’ the congregation echoes.

He is laid down in the ground, with the earth and the dirt that in his later years he learned to love. Old, wrinkled and gone but never forgotten.

He lived a happy American Dream that so many didn’t. He escaped reality and lived in optimism. This morning I gave away his greatest possession, his brown leather suitcase, tattered and old, pretty much unusable, gone but never forgotten.

This suitcase was with him when he met my mother at the train station fifty years ago, traveling to Long Beach Island. The suitcase had not been his previously; he had found it abandoned on the side of a busy street corner in Trenton. He identified with the suitcase straightaway. He had also been abandoned, but not by choice, and it reminded him of his father’s suitcase from long ago. So he kept it. However, he didn’t go to use it until I was born and when he did open it, he was shocked and moved.

This suitcase had letters in it, dozens of them. All from different people. My father assumed the owner was a paper boy who never completed his round and therefore forty-eight people never got letters from their loved ones in 1945.

My father read them – all of them – and kept them as his keepsakes. This morning I sent them to the places they belonged to, better late than never. I already have replies. See, the suitcase was not my father’s most prized possession, people were.

For sale: old suitcase. Would suit maybe a theatre group or such. $10.

Old but never forgotten.


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