February might be the shortest month of the year, but with the added day this year, it certainly felt like the longest. Yes – I know it’s now mid-March, but I’m only crawling out my February Funk now. Normally, I revel in the beauty of winter. I love fluffy snowflakes, ice crystals forming on windows and icicles hanging from rooftops (even though I know they are horribly dangerous). I love curling up with a cup of hot chocolate, a warm blanket and a good book while the dark cold of winter surrounds me. February is usually harsh and cold, but this year it was mild and mucky – and so were my emotions.
My father-in-law passed away, leaving a house full of memories and secrets needing to be sorted. Each day we would arrive at his house to sort through his possessions, thinking we only needed a few hours to box things up in preparation for selling the house. Instead, we got lost in old photographs, correspondence and all the bits and pieces that made up the life of a very special man.
Antique cameras, costume jewellery, scouting paraphernalia, report cards, birth certificates, death certificates, bills, shopping lists, books, plants – the list of treasures is endless. How do you decide what to keep, what to donate and what to sell? How do you decide which parts of a person’s life hold the most value?
Among the buried treasures, we found a set of duelling pistols. They are old, dating back to the 1880’s, according to the ELG marking on them. Stored in a candy tin, hidden at the back of a closet, we wondered if this was a piece of history, a family heirloom which he stashed away in memory of his own childhood. We will never know.
Undoubtedly, on a personal level, the photographs hold the most value – except, we can only identify a select few individuals. Even then, the stories behind each of the pictures has faded beyond memory’s reach. I am starting to understand the value of creating memoires, complete with pictures, if only for personal use. After all, a picture can only hold as much value as the memory it provokes.
So – the moral of this blog: share stories with your children, label pictures and write down the important stuff. Who knows? It is entirely possible that piece of costume jewellery, bequeathed to you by your great-aunt Millie, might have been a rare gift to her from a famous Prince. Its true value is undoubtedly more than you’ll ever know.