She plays Gigi as she turns in slow circles,

she was hand-carved in Switzerland,
then painted with a delicate brush,

but this poem is not about the music or the art,

it’s about the gift,

54 years ago, in the summer of 1967,
my sister, Judy, and her best friend, Ellen,
boarded a student ship called The Aurelia
out of New York Harbor,

it took nine days at a top speed of 30 mph
to cross the Atlantic,

they spent an entire, epic summer in Europe,

I later listened to Judy’s tales of watching
the bulls run in Pamplona,
falling for a young man named Enzo in Rome,
riding trains, hitchhiking, dancing,
turning twenty-one in Paris,

feeling completely, totally alive,
feeling independent, feeling free to make mistakes,

finding common ground with people
from all over the world,
finding joy in simple meals, new experiences,

finding a gift for me in a small shop in Geneva,
then carrying it home in an overstuffed suitcase,

I was fourteen, awaiting my own adventures,
yet feeling so alive holding the exquisite music box,

that’s why I still have it,
why I still wind it from time to time,
why I will keep it on the mantle until I’m old
and misty-eyed with nostalgia,

to remind me that some gifts
carry indelible memories,
that our stories can encourage
others to cross oceans,

that love is sometimes extended
at just the right time,
to just the right person,
for all the right reasons.

6 responses

  1. Crossing Oceans strikes such a very special chord in my heart. Thank you for your thoughtful creativity, dear Rita.

  2. You are welcome, Ellen! You and Judy put adventure into the hearts of all of us back home. Thank you for being the trailblazers. xoxo

  3. Maureen Shepherd | Reply

    This memory brought tears to my eyes. It is true that special gifts remind us of the feelings we experienced when receiving them. And a gift from foreign lands is the best! What a summer of grand adventure.

    1. Maureen, it’s rare to still have a gift from so many years ago. Of course, the main things we carry forward are the feelings. We, as a family, are very fortunate in that regard. xoxo

  4. The sweetness of this beautiful musical doll reminded me of you then, dear Rita, and still does. Your wonderful tribute to youth, change, and a gift of love is a full circle of gratitude. You’ve created a grand sweep to this life, and given it more meaning.

    1. Judy, your thoughtful gift brought more joy than you could have imagined. It’s a lovely reminder that our actions and thoughtfulness are never wasted and often treasured in ways we will never know. xoxo

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