Recently, we've had an experience as a family that was so tragic in its fashion. We have a large storage building that we've used as storage for many years. Due to a huge misunderstanding, when the neighbors defaulted on their loan and lost their house, the bank came to be under the impression that our storage building was part of that property. On March 13, they dispatched a crew to the building and cut the locks. Over the course of 3 days, they emptied nearly 70 years of heirlooms, artifacts and memories.
On Monday, they returned our property. Well, put it this way, they returned what they hadn't sold or discarded.
Some of what we lost is replaceable; dog show equipment, paperback books, and so forth. Some really doesn't matter too much, but I'll never replace the notes and textbooks from all my years in college. There was the copper tub that my grandmother did her laundry in during the 1930s, and my grandfather's harmonica. Every day, we discover another item that is missing, and I watch my mother wilt a little more....the heavy pottery bowl that her mother made bread in, or the set of pine needle baskets woven by an elderly Native American artist shortly before she died, taking her art with her.
I've known people who have lost everything, either to disaster or theft, or sheer carelessness. I've never seen this sort of wholesale abuse before, and ironically, the company that did this is protected under the law. We can sue, but how can we replace such things?
So much memory is attached to the items around us. In a way, when we realized the bowl was missing today, I remembered learning to make bread in that bowl, and when I think of the harmonica, Grandpa's face comes to mind. So even in loss, there's some reward, because in storing away such precious items, we stored our memories. I'll never have my bread bowl back, but this year, I'll scour the antique stores and find another. I'll keep it in the house and use it often. When I do, I'll remember my grandmother's hands, all covered with flour and dough.
I'll do my best to remember that what I value most is the people who are attached to those memories.
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