I do not have a lot of memories of my childhood, but there are certain things that have stayed with me my whole life. When I was very young, and would visit my grandparents, “Nana and Danta,” I always asked to play with their miniature wrought iron old fashioned stove with the tiny pots and pans that sat on the brick hearth by the fireplace. After a while the pots and pans seemed to go missing, but the stove was always there, and I spent hours and hours playing with it. When they died, it never occurred to me to ask for that, it never occurred to me that I could, and to be honest it was so long ago, I am not sure at that time in my life it mattered to me nearly as much as it does now.
When my mother died, I remember my siblings going through her things, and bickering about who would get what. I wasn’t a part of that, I didn’t want or need anything. I did end up taking the blue measuring tape she always wore around her neck when she was sewing, and I also took a few of the fancy serving spoons she always put out when she was having a grown-up party. These are things that remind me of her, not my childhood necessarily, but of her and what seemed to matter to her at that time in our life.
Things are not nearly as important to me as memories are, so the things I was able to get from my mom and dad when they died, remind me of them and I am thankful for that. My Aunt has gifted me a few things that belonged to my other set of grandparents, such as special plates, engraved handkerchiefs, and other lovely little porcelain things that while not special to me, were special to them, which ended up being special to me. I am finally at a place in my life where I am starting to appreciate how priceless things can be when they belonged to someone who is no longer here.
I think about all the things I have in my home, the things I have collected, and how much they matter to me. They are not expensive, they are not heirlooms or collector’s items, however to me they are priceless. This does not mean I think anyone in my family would want them, but I would like to know if they did. I have decided to speak to the people in my life and ask them if there is anything I have that they are drawn to and would like to have one day down the road after I am gone, so that I can make a list and have it ready. I want each person I love to have something that was mine, that they can cherish and hold dear. I want to make sure that no one fights over anything, and that dividing my things does not elicit an argument or possible disconnect between them.
It isn’t about the cost or monetary value of the things we are gifted from someone who has died. At least not for me. I love the idea of having something special on my shelf that I can look at, or wear, or read, or listen to, or simply smile each time I see it… because it belonged to someone I love. That matters to me. My things are special to me, they are priceless possessions I hope to pass along to someone else one day for the soul purpose of knowing they had something that was mine and that makes them smile.
My advice would be for you to reach out to the people you love now… ask them if there is anything special they would like to have one day as a memory of you. Let them know you will save it for them, and you are honored they would want it.
As I was writing this, I went back to the days when I played on the thickly carpeted floor of my grandparents trailer... creating stories with that little stove, completely lost in my make-believe world... the world which allowed me to check out from everything else and brought me joy, and comfort... and surprisingly still does just thinking about it.