"let your boat of life be light, packed with only
what you need - a homely home and simple pleasures, someone to love and someone to love you,
enough to eat and enough to wear
and a little more than enough to drink:
for thirst is a dangerous thing"

Tuesday, 2 April 2013

treasured possessions

We all have them, use them on special occasions, love to hold and look at them but often keep them behind cupboard doors.

It has been a sentimental Easter weekend where a lot of time has been spent sorting through Helen's possessions.  While Michael and his brother Derek have been sorting through documents, papers and filing cabinets, Judy my sister-in-law, Caroline and I have been in the cupboards, drawers and kitchen.  

Helen's flat was neat, tidy and well organised and it is hard to believe how much there is still there even after things have been distributed.  Her photo albums, scrap books and diaries were all in order and up to date (not the diaries). She had written a diary from when was very young right up until her life became too muddled, probably 4 years ago.  Nearly 80 years of your life carefully documented...and then you die.

Some lovely treasured items have been passed on to Michael and myself and I have this morning been busy throwing out some of my "not so treasured possessions" to make space for the new "old" stuff.  We have a still life painting of some cups and saucers, a writing desk, a beautiful bookshelf, some lovely glassware and vases but it was the simple things that were the hardest to leave behind.

So in amongst the more valuable items, the following have now moved to my home because they could not be packed in a box or given to someone who did not appreciate their history

 A brightly colour rose vase, a crystal vase, a beaded sugar bowl "cover", a few wooden spoons and spatulas
 the egg beater which works perfectly, some cookie cutters, stakes for baked potatoes and what every home should have "a hard boiled egg slicer"...
 a recipe book from 1934...
old fashioned mixing bowls which are yellowed and well worn

How many stories could these items tell?
How many dinner guests lips were dabbed by the well worn linen damask napkins?
How many eggs have been separated and beaten in the bowls and how many cookies cut with the cookie cutters?
How many different homes in different countries have these items lived in?

So possessions are really at the end of the day just things, they get left behind and other people   will decide what to do with them.  The candles that were never burned, the scarves that were never worn, the dinner service that was saved for best, the cut glasses that were no longer used are hopefully now going to be burned, worn, eaten off and drunk out of.

But to me it is the everyday items that were used, loved, read and looked at that are the most valuable.  Tins that were used to bake cakes for hungry children; napkins that are worn and slightly stained because they have been used by guests laughing and enjoying themselves around the dinner table; a letter opener that has opened so many letters and cards over the years; a trunk, that probably travelled at some time, but now smells of moth balls and has stored blankets and winter coats for years and an old milk bottle from a dairy in UK that Helen used to fill her kettle with water with whenever she made tea.  

Although I will never know the stories, I will make sure these well loved and worn possessions are used and I will make up my own stories as I go along.  The yellow, worn, damask linen napkins are already on my table ready for a big family dinner on Friday night when Derek and Judy will meet some of my family for the first time.  They should be afraid!!