Thursday, September 17, 2009

Treasure Chest Thursday: Treasured in Memory

When I was a young girl, I went over to my grandma Mary LeSourd Reed's house one day. We were in her bedroom, where she had opened her cedar chest, a plain-looking chest with a tapestry runner on top. In the chest were a number of items, including an old christening gown, bits of tatted lace, and the photograph which appears here.

The baby in the photograph was Wilmer LeSueur Reed, her oldest child, who died in infancy. She told me that he could not keep his food down. When I obtained his death certificate from the city of Chicago, where he died 13 October 1909 at just under one year old, I discovered his cause of death to have been ruled an acute gastritis.

Through my grandma and my mother, I came into possession of the cedar chest and its contents. The christening gown is still in it, as are the pieces of tatted lace. I've added my own items to it. The photograph is on one of my bookcases.

The cedar chest to me was a treasure chest of family history. The christening gown in the chest is the one in the picture, and it also appears in a photograph of Wilmer's younger sister Elizabeth, who was born 10 December 1909, about two months after Wilmer died. She lived into adulthood, and served as a public health nurse and Director of Health Information for the State of Florida in the 1950s and 1960s.

Wilmer lives on a little bit in me, as his middle name was given me as my middle name. It is always sad when a baby dies, but Wilmer always lived in his mother's memory, and he lives still in my middle name and in the photo on my bookshelf.

That's a family treasure.


Tracy said...

I think it's lovely that you keep Wilmer's picture on display, and your story reminded me so much of my great-grandmother and her firstborn. One of the things I remember most about going to visit Great-Grandma is that she always had a picture of her little one, Merle (who died when he was 2 and 1/2) on the end table by the couch. I'm proud to have inherited Merle's picture, too. We're so blessed to live in a day when this happens less often.

Karen Packard Rhodes said...

We are blessed, indeed, that the infant mortality rate is lower. Thank you for sharing about Merle.