Several months ago a friend blogged about the "stuff" of her life; items in her writing space that had stood the test of time. Regardless of the number of moves, spring cleanings, de-clutterings or donations, these items had survived. I love my home office. It's a warm, cozy room that both soothes and inspires. As I looked around my office, after reading her blog, the reason for that calm and welcoming atmosphere became apparent. Without realizing it, I had surrounded myself with my own special "stuff," treasured keepsakes representing people and events in my life that I hold dear to my heart. As I took stock, I have to admit I was a bit shocked when I started counting up the years that some of these items have been with me; the number of moves (eight residences in four states for some of them) they had survived. Here are a few of the items that have stood the test of time.
My bronzed baby shoe holds the distinction of being with me the longest. Do they even do that anymore? Back in the day, parents would have their baby's first shoe bronzed as a keepsake. Mine is engraved with my name and date of birth and, these days, functions as a bookend but it also serves as a reminder of my mom and dad as young parents, bursting with pride and love for their first born.
Did I mention that I collect frogs? Once upon a time, I had a huge collection but much of it went to new homes when I downsized to the condo where I now live. Not the first one though. That's him over there on the left. He was a Christmas present from younger brother #3. He's graced apartments, townhouses, multiple homes and now has a place of honor in my condo office. He reminds me of that teenage boy, making minimum wage, who managed to save enough money to buy his big sister something special. He's not going anywhere.
This sign has only been with me a couple years but every time I look at it my heart melts a bit more. I can't help but be reminded of all the wonderful dogs who have shared my home over the years. Big or small, long-lived or short, each and every one of them has left their paw prints on my heart. Wherever life takes me, this sign will be with me as will the memories of the furkids I was blessed to know.
Okay, who remembers the Davy Crockett television show? There's probably only a handful of you who watched it when it first aired (in the 50's) but some of you may have seen it on nostalgic TV channels. I don't remember exactly when I was given this mug but I know I was in grade school. That's 50 years ago, people. Fifty! How I've managed to not break it in all those years I'll never know (sure hope I'm not jinxing myself) but it doesn't even have a scratch or a crack. It's not worth all that much but every time I look at it I'm reminded of a simpler time, a carefree childhood and the warmth of being secure in my parents' love.
As soon as I saw Louie the Frog, I knew he'd be the perfect birthday gift for my step-mom. She was in the early stages of Alzheimer's and my dad had been diagnosed with terminal cancer earlier that summer. It had been a rough few months and was going to get more difficult but this sweet, singing frog was a reminder of all the joy their union had brought and that it was indeed a wonderful world. During the time my dad had left, Louie serenaded them over and over, never failing to bring a smile to them both. He continued to bring comfort to my step-mom in later years when she no longer knew us. Though both my dad and step-mom have been gone for years, each time Louie sings to me they are here, in my heart, reminding me to reach for the joy of the wonderful world in which we live.
Last, but not least, are the books. Good friends, all. Some old, some new, some I've yet to read and others I've revisited time and again. Three special volumes are Shirley Temple's Storybook, The Lincoln Library of Essential Information and 1001 Nights. The Lincoln Library belonged to my late husband. It was a gift from his mother on his 12th birthday and is personally inscribed. It traveled the world with him during his Air Force career and was one of his most treasured possessions. The other two were gifted to me. My parents gave me the Shirley Temple book for my ninth Christmas and it includes my mom's handwritten inscription. I have precious memories of her reading me stories from the book and I've read many a story from it to others little ones in my life. When I was a young child, my family was "adopted" by one of my dad's clients, a lovely widow who lived on a farm just outside our small town. She had no children and we became surrogate grandchildren to her. When I was seven, she gave me 1001 Nights, a fascinating collection of wondrous tales like Aladdin, Scheherazade, and Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves. I think she would be pleased to know that all these years later I still enjoy traveling to the mysterious lands of 1001 Nights.
Now it's your turn. Tell me about your treasured keepsakes. How long have they been with you? What makes them special? Do they surround you with a feeling of comfort and joy?
I have three packages of books in need of good homes! (US addresses only)