My mother liked tchotchkes. She never spent money frivolously, but she did indulge herself in an inexpensive little knick-knack from Steinman’s once in a while. I remember this little piano music box being around the house for my whole childhood. I never really played with it; it was more her item than mine. She kept it on the end of an old-style stereo in our mid-fifties modern living room, where it did not match anything else.

The box contains a secret compartment where my mother kept some photographs and a vintage dollar bill, all of which I still keep inside the compartment. There is a picture of her in a beautiful pink dress she had custom-made for a wedding, which I still keep as well.

This music box means much more to me now than it did then. When I moved out of my father’s house, I took it with me as a little physical reminder of my mother. It now resides on my bedside table where I see it every day. I don’t keep a lot of sentimental items, but this one has stayed with me through the years.