Looking through a box recently, I found the key to my parents’ old home. I didn’t even remember I had it, and they moved out of that house twenty years ago. Should I throw it away?
That house… They loved living there, a small ranch home at the end of a cul-de-sac. They enjoyed its wide windows, airy sun porch, and large back yard. My mother planted a flower garden in front and a vegetable garden in back, and together they worked hard to create a charming, comfortable interior. On weekends they would visit nearby parks, go to sporting events, or simply relax at home. They were happy there.
I remember the times I’d visited. I lived in another city, and I had the key because I could come anytime — always welcome, just walk right in, and I came when I could for holidays and visits.
There were other things in that box, trinkets from vacations and events. They triggered memories, too. That’s what a “souvenir” is: a token of remembrance, a memento. With those other souvenirs, I remember a trip, a summer at a university, a wedding… and with that key, I remember the house where my parents lived.
I’m going to keep the key. My parents have died, someone else lives in that home, and I’ll never go back. Someone else might think that the old key is useless, but they never used it to walk into that happy home.
Once, that key opened a door. Now it opens memories.