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The Little Black Purse

I longed to have some small item of Aunt Karen’s to remember her by…

Small black purse

Aunt Karen always had a special place in my heart. When I was growing up, I knew I could count on her to have room for me on her lap and words of love and encouragement when I needed to hear them. When she died five years ago, I was devastated. The whole family was still in shock when her husband, Uncle Ronnie, died a week later. I longed to have some small item of Aunt Karen’s to remember her by, but seeing her children and grandchildren overcome by the grief of this double loss made me shy away from asking.

A few months after Aunt Karen’s death, I was on my way to work when I spotted Rescued Treasures, a local mission store. I only had a couple of dollars on me and didn’t really intend to purchase anything, but I stopped anyway just to browse. I had been shopping around for a few minutes when a small, black purse caught my eye. It wasn’t fancy or particularly distinctive, just simple leather patchwork. I didn’t really need a purse and continued to look around the store, but something kept drawing me back to that handbag. Finally, I checked the price tag. It was only a dollar.

The purse languished in the back of my van for weeks until I came upon it during a routine car clean-up. I took it inside and opened it up. Yuck. I couldn’t believe it. They hadn’t even cleaned it out. It was still full of junk, old candy wrappers, receipts, cards. Usually the mission store emptied things, so there wouldn’t be any gross surprises for a new owner.

I threw away an old piece of candy and some scraps of paper, and sorted through the receipts, when I found one last item in the small, inside pocket. It was an insurance card with the name “Karen Stair” written on it. I began to cry. My beloved Aunt Karen. This was her purse.

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