Oh boy, I feel like I’ve been gone forever…. in reality it’s probably just a little over 2 weeks. In the online world that’s long enough to be forgotten forever 😂 I’ve been occupied both mentally and physically in family life and the big effort of my mum moving home. When I say occupied what I really mean is entrenched and consumed.
I’m not sure how many of you have had to move 50+ years of stuff, but it’s not such an easy job. I shouldn’t call it stuff either…..they were treasures. Long loved belongings of my parents, my grandparents and great grandparents. Some haven’t been seen let alone used for many years, but evoked memories nonetheless.
We are not a religious family, however past generations were. We have a stunning leather bound bible dating back to the mid 1800’s. Coloured pictures, handwritten notes documenting births, deaths and marriages within the family……when I say stunning I am not exaggerating. It has been stored with the love and care it deserves and shall continue to do so.
There was enough china to open our own tea rooms. Too good to just give away, not really needed by Mum or myself, but you guessed it, it’s all in boxes to go to her new, forever home. There is history attached to so much of it.
A Great Aunty of mine was very good friends with the Bond Family. Not the Western Australian Bond Family of the Americas Cup fame, But the American Bond Family of the underwear fame. Yep, that’s right, Bonds linen, underwear and baby clothing ! We have many, many treasures, a lot monogrammed with the ‘B’ of the family. They were given to my Aunty and have been passed down lovingly.
Every drawer or cupboard that was to be emptied and packed threw up more history, all with its own tale to tell. You really never knew what was going to come to light next. I mean we had a box of old coins, I know, pftt, old coins…….I felt exactly the same until we really started to look at them. We came across a few turn of the century coins, some European, some Asian. One from Prussia in 1905, but our real find was a coin from 1816, I believe it was French, which if you know your history, you will recognise the date as Napoleonic. It is safely housed now.
What struck me the most is even though I knew some of the history and anecdotes of mums prize possessions, there was a lot I knew nothing about. So much so that when Mum relocates from my home to hers in 5 weeks I will actually take the time to write down the stories of some pieces.
There is a china tea set, teapot, creamer and sugar bowl. I knew they had been around as long as I could remember but it was only last week that I learned of their origins. My great grandmother, my maternal grandfathers mother had 5 children. They weren’t rich and when she passed there wasn’t a long list of possessions, but there were 5 items she classed as her treasures. Each item was written on a piece of paper and then each child drew the paper from a hat ……. my grandfather drew the paper which corresponded with that tea set. It is now mine and its history is an added bonus I never knew before.
ASK WHILE YOU CAN
What I’m getting to know is ask all the questions you can while your parents and grandparents are still alive. Learn the family history. I don’t just mean your family tree, but I have good friends tracing their family tree at the moment and it has revealed amazing things, to including my girlfriend finding the father she never knew……that is life changing.
What I mean is before you are left with all this ‘stuff’ know what it means to the generations past before you just throw or give it away. Yes, you may well have treasures that are worth some significant monetary value, we have certainly unearthed a few of those and if you truly don’t want them then choose carefully how you pass them on. However learning the background of such items and how they came to be in my mums house was worth so much more than money.
It’s a bit like when my dad passed and I then discovered what an exceptional soccer player he had been. He was an extremely humble man who never spoke f his own accomplishments, yet he was an A Grade player who had he continued on with it would most certainly been a representative. At the age of just 14 he was chosen to play in an A Grade Sydney team made up of players much older than himself. He never told me, yet there is a small leather suitcase with write ups and newspaper clippings all about it. I wish I had known it while he was still alive, he was a great story teller and to hear his own story, from him would have been very special.
FROM ONE GENERATION TO THE NEXT
This post seems to hold a familiar story…… communication.
It’s not just about the treasures a house holds it’s about the stories that surround them and who you hear those tales of the past from. Take the time to ask the questions. Even if you are not really interested now, you will be at a later time and then it may be too late to get the answers.
Your relatives will not only want you to know, they will enjoy telling you. After all it is a passing of information that ensures the family history will live on long after each generation has passed.
Ask, listen, recall……..the only way to keep memories alive.