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The Attic
by Jane-Ann Heitmueller

Like a creeping fog, the peaceful reverence enveloped me as I lifted the bulky trap door and peered hesitantly into the dim, hazy attic. Dust particles, as fireflies flitting about on a moonlit night, darted merrily in the shafts of sunlight that had forced their rays through empty nail holes in the fragile tin roof. The dusty remains of a life well lived lay before me in the carefully arranged boxes and bags. Eighty-eight years of treasures were there, diligently collected, tenderly viewed, lovingly caressed and deeply cherished by Mom over the span of her lifetime.

Although she had been gone nearly two years, only three days had passed since my impromptu visit to her grave, and the dark tunnel of her loss was once again filled with light. I finally felt eager and free from a guilty feeling of intrusion to immerse myself in the task of revealing her sacred treasures in the attic.

A photographic plethora of familiar and unfamiliar faces, both young and old, greeted me from the depths of the old oak cedar chest. The frayed blanket and pink rattler of a baby girl, lost after only two years of life, were nestled protectively in layers of crumpled tissue paper. A squadron of brave naval officers was presented in their dress whites and gloved hands, as they proudly stood at attention on the deck of their battleship, facing an unknown future, only days away from sailing into the now infamous, deadly waters of Pearl Harbor. A shiny, black leather Bible inscribed in bold, flowery script by Reverend John Marion to his ten-year-old parishioner on the joyous occasion of her first baptism. Monogrammed, organdy handkerchiefs for a new bride, folded neatly within her wedding invitation and topped with a now-brown, crisp Gardenia corsage, its fragrance only a faint memory of that momentous day. A pair of black, wrinkled, aged kid gloves was tucked into a matching purse whose latch was broken, along with a strand of still gleaming pearls and matching earbobs.

Blowing away the dust I anxiously searched through boxes and bags, retrieving school books, diaries, recipes. Without any hesitation I now plundered through other neatly stacked parcels, unearthing straw and felt hats, satin shoes and flannel suits, all remnants of the daily life and times of a once vibrant, young woman.

In quiet reflection and reverence I closed my eyes and visualized Momís youthfulness, heard her laughter, smelled the fragrance of her favorite perfume, felt the warmth and joy I had so missed, but now felt enter my heart once again . . . in the attic.


Jane-Ann Heitmueller and her husband relish a life of retirement from the field of education on their 134-year old, authentically restored German homeplace, Mulberry Farm. A mood of nostalgia and whimsy permeates the writings of this mother of two and grandmother of two as she attempts to reflect upon what are often considered the ordinary, mundane aspects of life, both past and present. Heitmueller's poetry and short stories have been published in newspapers, magazines and books.

Read one of Jane-Ann's poems at USADEEPSOUTH: Why, Granny?

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