So this is mom’s life, reduced to a dozen boxes on the garage floor, remnants and relics from a 93-year journey that touched eleven decades and, somehow, ended prematurely.
Not everything in the boxes was even hers, really. At least a few containers hold the photos and memories she inherited from those who preceded her, keepsakes for her to preserve and, ultimately, relinquish to another generation.
I keep thinking there should be more, although it’s not likely that any added possessions would fill the empty space. In the end, it’s just stuff. Even the stuff that seems important, the stuff I’d want to hold onto, only has meaning in the context of memories. Like the photos on my wall and the resale-shop rejects on my desk, they remind me of a story that I like to retell, even if it’s only to myself.
There’s the owl figurine from my old partner, the clock from my grandmother’s apartment, the binoculars dad brought back from the war…and now, a porcelain monstrosity from mom’s collection of giraffe figurines. This one is truly hideous, but she liked it and it reminds me of her fixation with the original vegans.
That’s the thing about possessions. They have function, most of the time, but they don’t have any meaning until they tell a story, spark a memory, or preserve a connection between people or lands or eras. I’m beginning to appreciate my kids’ view of all this, resistant to my offers of all the incredibly valuable, heirloom-quality stuff that has no emotion, no blood, for them.
I felt that way, as well, when we went through the curio cabinet, wondering why she chose some of the stuff that made it to the display while other items served their solitary confinement in the back of a drawer. Why are these Match Box cars in here, and what’s the deal with that clown figurine? Why is this vase so special, but not that one over there in the kitchen cabinet? Without that insight, there is no connection.
That’s why he most important thing you can make in life isn’t money. It’s memories. Family dinner, vacation trips, visits to the zoo, or pretty much any other shared time will do the trick. Time is the greatest gift and some of the best stories begin, “Do you remember when…?”
In the end, it’s all about the memories, the experiences, the images that set us off on a journey to a long-ago time. This isn’t a drafting table; it’s a visit to my dad’s office. This isn’t an owl figurine; it’s my friend, Ron. This isn’t a mechanical toy; it’s my brother, David.
And now there’s a really, really, really weird looking giraffe.
Hi, mom. Say, do you remember when...?
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Who writes this stuff?
Dadwrites oozes from the warped mind of Michael Rosenbaum, an award-winning author who spends most of his time these days as a start-up business mentor, book coach, photographer and, mostly, a grandfather. All views are his alone, largely due to the fact that he can’t find anyone who agrees with him.