I’m hopelessly sentimental. That’s part of the reason I love writing stories set in the recent past. It’s like getting to time travel and hang out with my grandparents and great-grandparents!

So when my cousins in Pennsylvania boxed up a bunch of treasures that belonged to my Great Aunt Dorothy (Grandma to them!), I was pretty ecstatic. If you check out my author Facebook page you can see me unboxing all those goodies. Of course, almost anyone else who opened that box would, perhaps, find a few items they thought were pretty or interesting, but I’m well aware that the TREASURE designation is because they aren’t just things to me. They’re windows into the past.

While I was delighted with the whole kit and kaboodle (an apt descriptor of the collection), my favorite items are two bells. The first, and my ABSOLUTE favorite, is a bell clearly decorated by hand. One side says “Laurel Fork Church” and the other has a simple drawing of that very structure. Now, this is the church I grew up in. The one my ancestors helped build and the one I got married in. (The one that still only has an outhouse. That’ll make you use the bathroom before you leave for church!)

But wait, there’s MORE to make it special! Aunt Dorothy was pretty meticulous and she labeled just about everything. Inside that bell is a bit of paper that says, “Anna.” So Anna–one of the matriarchs of the church–gave (probably made and gave) the bell to my aunt who collected bells. This just makes my heart swell up and run over!

The bell now has pride of place on our mantel. Most guests probably won’t even notice it. But every time I walk by I’m transported to a one-room church on a hilltop in West Virginia where everyone sitting in the pews is either family or just like it. I’m known there. I’m safe. And best of all, I’m loved.

A treasure, indeed.