I've been rooting around in my family tree for several years now, and among other things it has brought my sense of mortality to life, an awareness sharply present right now, as I sit at this table in my writing nook, looking at an accumulation of bric-a-bracs, miscellanea, and memorabilia. My presence brings them to life for me, and I can't help wondering how they will look and feel to my survivors when I am gone. These stones and bits of driftwood gathered over time and distance, polished by frequent handling as I take breaks from writing. The framed photos of times past and often people passed. The small wooden Buddha from China given me by a long lost friend. The certificates and awards with which I vaingloriously decked on the wall before me. The white-tailed deer antler I found during a walk in the woods with a treasured friend whose companionship has been strained by distance and by the pull of separate families and responsibilities, of respectable adulthood. The books I have amassed over many years, some bought new, many bought second-hand, many gifts or found treasures. Even my state-of-the-art smart watch, one of my few 21st century indulgences.
No one, not even those nearest me, can share the value these things have for me. The same way I can't feel the magic my father felt when he read Wolfville, a bit of light reading about life in the Old West, a very second-hand book he treasured, one he read in long-past evenings in a chair in a house long gone. I read it the other night because he liked it, and in his memory. But it didn't move me the way it did him. Then there is that box of old and unlabeled photos, people who smile stiffly for the camera in the mistaken belief they are making a memento that will shine forever under the dust of time.
Now cold ashes of lives lived and gone.
But maybe the better view is that someday some of my treasures will shine for some of my survivors, or someone visiting my estate sale, or even someone buying them from St. Vincent de Paul. Memorabilia cold and lifeless for awhile, until -- and if -- someone else infuses them with their own life energy. And with my blessing.
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