This month, a few folks at Points North Magazine fell in love with the thought of heirlooms. On page 86 of their February issue, Editor Heather KW Brown talks about a 1950s couch from her grandmother's house that she reupholstered, Shannah Smith mentioned an old hall tree, and Tiffany Willard revealed that she has her grandfather's old wicker rocking chair, though the runners are worn and flattened out now. They invited readers to share an heirloom or two on Twitter using the hashtag #PNAfterThoughts.
I'm surrounded by heirlooms and keepsakes. I chose two items in my office to share with my friends at Points North using their hashtag.
A mission-style oak dictionary stand supports a rather hefty, vintage Webster's dictionary in the corner of my office. It was my mother-in-law's. She loved words and was a voracious reader, so the dictionary and stand are perfect reminders of her.
She taught English composition to college freshmen for years at the University of Tennessee in Chattanooga. When I close my eyes, I can still see her curled up on the end of her sofa reading poorly-constructed essays. She'd occasionally glance up at the television to see what the Braves' score was before returning to her task of grading papers. She shook her head back and forth in disgust, then broke out the red pen.
Margaret and I shared a love of poetry. She could recite many poems. She was particularly fond of the opening of Wordsworth's "The Daffodils."
I wandered lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o'er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host, of golden daffodils.
Every spring, I stand in awe of the patches of glorious yellow daffodils that burst to life in our yard, and I think of Margaret and the line, "Beside the lake, beneath the trees, fluttering and dancing in the breeze."
But on to the second heirloom selection of the day...
On the piano in my office is a small wooden keepsake box my sister gave to me a few years ago. It contains one third of my father's arrowhead collection and a few coins he collected in his lifetime (my brother has the majority of his coin collection because they collected coins together). My sister had the lid inscribed with a powerful quote by Tuscarora—"They are not dead who live in the hearts they leave behind."
My dad was more at home in the woods with wildlife than he was indoors with people. He filled his pockets with artifacts from the forest—arrowheads, buckeyes, interesting rocks, an old piece of pottery he found on a riverbank somewhere, a shotgun shell, etc.
I love the fact that I can hold the arrowheads and feel them from time to time. I'm sure my father's DNA— and the genetic residue of a few Native American hunters who occupied the woods of Middle Georgia—still resides on the surface of the flint pieces.
And the coins are simply works of art. I love studying them, too.
Again, we keep things to help us remember. Almost everyone has an heirloom or keepsake, and every heirloom or keepsake has a story to tell. And oh, how I savor the stories and memories.