I have a chippy red box, that’s been in my possession since 1994. I don’t know the box’s exact age, although I do know its original purpose. The box is rustic and plain, with small nails still evident in the interior, raised slightly out of the wood.
This treasure once belonged to my great great aunt Roxie.
The box came to me after Aunt Roxie passed away, at the age of 98, in 1994. She lived her entire life in the tiny farm town of Rocky Comfort, Missouri, in McDonald County. She was my paternal grandmother’s aunt, and she played a very significant role in Granny Grace’s life.
When my grandmother was a young girl, the unthinkable happened. Her mother died, of an abscessed tooth, in 1917, leaving behind a husband and two small children. Curtis Hill needed help with his young son and daughter, so his sister, Roxanne Lee Hill, moved in and became a mother to those children. She was only 24 years old.
Aunt Roxie raised my grandmother and her brother. She never married or had children of her own. Grace and Garland were her children, the children of her heart.
What I remember most about this remarkable, selfless woman was her sense of humor. She had a contagious laugh and found many reasons to express her delight in people and situations. Aunt Roxie was practical and down to earth as well, meaning she knew how to get things done. She was strong, and wiry, and very petite.
Which is where that red box comes into the story. When she sat in an average sized chair, Aunt Roxie’s feet didn’t touch the floor. She made a footrest for herself, out of the box. When I brought the footrest home, after Aunt Roxie’s funeral, it was covered with faded and worn material. There was a bit of padding on top of the box, and the plaid material had been stretched over the top and sides of the footrest and tacked with nails inside the box.
When I carefully peeled back a corner of the material, I was delighted to see red paint on the sides of the wooden box. I removed the old material and the padding, and flipped the footrest over. I now had a vintage wooden box. If you’ve followed my blog for any length of time, you know that I love decorating and creating vignettes in old wooden boxes.
The box has had a place of honor in my living room, for 24 years. It currently rests on a small wooden bench. I have a couple of mason jars tucked inside, that hold tea light candles, along with dried baby’s breath and fat sticks of cinnamon. At Christmas time the box is the resting place for three quilted fabric trees.
I enjoy having this special keepsake. It reminds me of the strength and character of a woman who sacrificed much to care for two motherless children. I know the bond of love that existed between Roxie and my grandmother, Grace, lasted their whole lives. Granny was with Roxie when she passed away.
Her legacy of love and care has passed down through my family, generation by generation. For me that legacy is symbolized by a rustic red box…strong, resilient, and beautifully worn by the passage of time. Aunt Roxie would chuckle that I still have her old footrest and that I’ve found a new use for it. The box, and Aunt Roxie, are precious to me.