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I originally documented these events back in 2013 and I guess now is as good a time as any to tell it to share it with the world.
This hasn’t been the warmest of years and the opportunity to get out of the house has been scarce. Even as far back as February Eleanor were itching to get out and do something a little different so, one cold Sunday, we decided to take a trip out to Heanor about ten miles away from home and visit the antiques shop there.
After about an hour we spotted a handmade box with Eleanor’s initials on it. Eleanor knew she had to have it! The felt on the two lift out compartments was loose and tatty but, with a bit of tender loving care, it could be replaced and the box brought back to near new condition.
Due to other commitments, the box then sat untouched at home awaiting the much needed restoration work but, there wasn’t any rush. It would quite easily wait until we next visited a craft shop to get the necessary bits. Eleanor did however show it to an antiques expert who dated it from the 1860’s. Unfortunately Eleanor never managed to restore her cherished box as she sadly passed away on the 10th May.
With far more important things on my mind the box was forgotten and left sat on a coffee table. Eleanor’s funeral came and went. Still the box just sat there.
About a week after the funeral I arrived home to find that the box had mysteriously fallen over on to its front. What was even more confusing was that the drawer, which is located at the bottom at the front, had somehow fallen out! Surely, if the box had just somehow fallen over the drawer would have been pushed back into the box and not come out. Of course, at the time, I still wasn’t thinking straight, thought nothing of it and just stood the box up again, putting the drawer back in again..
A couple of days later a received a phone call from the funeral directors telling me that Eleanor’s ashes were available for collection. This was not a journey I was looking forward to and decided to leave them where they were for the time being.
The following Thursday, I was talking to Antony a friend of mine who offered to come with me the following day to collect the ashes. An offer I gratefully accepted. During the idle chatter Eleanor’s box came into the conversation and Antony’s jaw started to drop. “I have one just like that”, he said and we continued to jointly describe the box in minute detail. The condition of the felt, the ET lettering on the front and much more! But, there just couldn’t be two the same. After all, it was a handmade box! I agreed to bring the box with me the following day and as we were about to go our separate ways for the night, Antony received a reply to a message from his brother who confirmed that he had in fact sold the box a few months earlier.
With a heavy heart, I left work early on the Friday to meet up with Antony and to go and collect Eleanor’s ashes. After our sad duty had been completed we headed back to our place of solace where I had spent so much time after Eleanor passed. Whilst Antony carried the cardboard box containing Eleanor’s ashes I retrieved Eleanor’s handmade box from the boot of the car. If nothing else it would give us the opportunity to change the subject and give momentary relief from the sad task we had just had to perform.
Antony instantly recognised the box and was able to confirm that it was, without a shadow of a doubt the box that he had briefly owned a few short months earlier.
I looked at Eleanor’s antique wooden box, then at the cardboard box containing Eleanor’s ashes and once again back at the wooden box. Was it possible? I lifted the two trays out of the box, picked up the ashes and offered it up to the wooden box. It neatly slid down, with next to no clearance, onto the base of the box which was just above the drawer.
I lifted Eleanor’s ashes out and removed the drawer from the box. Antony put his hands inside the drawer space and gently pushed upwards. The base of the main box was only lightly glued on just one side. He applied a little more pressure and it popped right out without causing any damage. We slid the drawer back in again and once again tried to fit Eleanor’s ashes in but, there was still something was stopping them go into the very bottom.
We looked into the box and spotted that the lock on the drawer was protruding slightly. We took a screwdriver and carefully removed the lock from the drawer. Once again we offered up the box of ashes and this time, it slid right in, flush with the top of the box.
It was as though, in the 1860’s, someone made a box especially for Eleanor.
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