After years of thinking about it, I finally took all my dusty treasures that had been stashed in the rapidly disintegrating cardboard box labelled “old, old stuff” and transferred them into a shiny new state-of-the-art plastic storage container, with patented locking lid. And then I labelled *that* “old, old stuff.”
Not that all of the junk in that box was particularly ancient. In fact, most of it only goes back as far as my childhood – I’ll thank you to keep your comments to yourself. I rummaged around and found some baseball cards, mostly of players you’ve never heard of, and an autographed baseball, which includes the signature of Yogi Berra. There were some slides of a camping trip taken in 1965 and even a class photo from Grade 3. Gosh, I was a cute kid!
Actually, there were some old, old keepsakes in the box - a Bible from 1634 and some newspaper clippings about a U.S. presidential assassination. No, not Kennedy, Lincoln. There was a bullet from the Battle of Gettysburg and a handwritten and decorated book page from around 1220. That’s old, eh?
I like old objects – I’ve always been fascinated by these physical links to the past. I remember sitting in the guidance counsellor’s office in Grade 8 and answering his “what would you like to be” question with a chirpy, “An archeologist!” The poor man was at a loss, which I didn’t understand at the time, and so I watched curiously as he fumbled helplessly through his rack of Accountant, Nurse and Teacher brochures.
I caught a bit of *Antiques Roadshow* tonight and suddenly realized that my perspective has changed. As I get older, I’m starting to see the “big picture.” Until fairly recently, I had always looked at these old bits of stuff as objects that had worked their way down through the years, following a long and winding road until settling in their final resting place, which, of course, was with me. Now I have one more example of “thinking” that I can put in my ever-expanding file that I’ve labelled “The Arrogance of Youth.”
When I was given my antique Bible and Lincoln newspaper clipping by my great-great-aunt, I had foolishly assumed that they were now mine. And it’s taken me nearly 40 years to realize I’ll be doing nothing more than simply holding them for a while. And then the Bible, the newspapers and all my other accumulated stuff will continue on their journey through time, like a leaf floating down a stream: without me.
And I begin to realize that older people understand this, and so begin to give away their treasured possessions to those they care about, in order to help both the stuff and the person on their way. I can see the time approaching when I too will bestow my most valued possessions upon my most valued people. But that won’t be for a while yet. So, don’t even think about asking for the Yogi Berra ball.
AUGUST 2010 SENIOR LIVING MAGAZINE VANCOUVER & LOWER MAINLAND
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