More than a sign

After three wrenches, a hammer and a torch, my husband freed the faded nameplate from the mailbox, 40 years after my father had bolted the bracket into place.

SeasonsFlash back 40 years to a time when my siblings and I had somehow saved some money from selling rabbits. When we spotted the little ad in a farm magazine for a nameplate that bolted onto the mailbox, we knew this was the perfect anniversary gift for our parents. 

The basic nameplate was $5.95 but we had enough to spring for a metal scroll above the name so we put $6.95 in an envelope with our order  form and mailed it off. We wanted classy, after all.

When the package appeared in the mail, addressed to me, my mother snatched it up.

“What is this?” Her eyes narrowed and she held the flat cardboard in both hands.

This was  problem because it was a gift for her, too. I gulped, knowing my younger siblings had scattered like bugs when you turn on the light.

“Well, it’s a present,” I said. She thrust the package into my hands.

“Show me.”

So I did. What else do you do at 14?

She studied the contents for about three seconds. Today, I know she was a little embarrassed at her distrust. “I guess that’s all right,” she said. 

Only then did we get to see the dark green background, the silvery glitter on the name, the silvery scroll. It was all we had hoped. 

So we gave the sign to our parents for their anniversary and Dad was surprised, anyway. Mom smiled, though. 

The nameplate withstood blizzards, wind, rain, hot summer sun for many years. The green background faded until there was little contrast between background and letter. But it stood solidly on the mailbox.

When we sold the family farm, I wanted to keep the nameplate.

Not just a reminder of my parents’ years on that farm, but also a legacy. Because that sign signaled the day when my mother learned she really could trust this wild band of children.

We ordered the gift awkwardly but, as it turned out, we really did it all right.


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