I am a hoarder-always have been and probably always will be. I have a red coat I purchased when I was expecting my second son – and he hopes to go to university in September. It gets an airing and an outing and the odd compliment every winter. That’s just a wee example of the extent of my hoarding.
Every summer I do a good clear out. And every summer I review the items of which I thought every previous summer, ‘sure ‘I’ll hold onto that’. I’m just not ready to obliterate them from my home. Unfortunately, this summer, in anticipation of moving house, I have had no other option but to be extremely ruthless . And it is breaking my heart. So, 37 trips to the charity shop and 18 trips to the dump later, I have managed to complete a good clear out.
However, there were some very precious things with which I don’t think I will ever part -my sons’ first football boots, their wee tiny football jerseys that would hardly now cover their big manly hands, cuddly toys, first teeth, first curls, their red covered health books filled in religiously by their health visitors, detailing their every vital statistic and growth spurt, baby blankets, Christmas annuals, Bob the Builder trucks and of course their beloved tractors, their creative writing books from primary school which I find particularly comforting, son number one’s first letter he wrote to Santa and the receipt of the first time son number 2 ever signed for an ice cream on holiday-room number and signature written to perfection and him only 3.
Every box I sort through reminds me of happy days when the wee innocent souls thought that potatoes had green flecks in them. It was the only way I could get them to eat their broccoli.
I know it is a cliché but how many times have our older friends and relatives said, ‘Sure it’s just a blink’? How right they are. Time marches on, the years fly by, the wrinkles appear to accompany the grey hairs and the next thing you know, you’re entering yet another stage of your life and contemplating retirement.
Memories are the most precious possessions we can hold-whether physical tangible objects or cherished mental moments of family life, holidays, christenings, birthdays, First Communions. The list is endless. But every occasion is valued and treasured. I remember seeing a man being interviewed on television and he had taken a photograph of his precious daughter every day since she was born. I so wish I had done the same.
Memories are all we have left of loved ones who have passed away. Great laughs, great nights out and great chats as well as the tough times when we were supported by dear friends or we helped others through. Through the tears of sorrow come tears of laughter when we talk about old times. An old song we had forgotten or a brief sniff of a familiar perfume worn by a loved one evokes warmth and comfort and sends us back to a moment in time that had long since vacated our mental memory box.
Life is short and life is precious. Two beautiful ladies, of whom I thought the world, passed away last week – Joan and Kathleen. They were beautiful inside and out. Thank you God for the beautiful gift of memories as I can’t believe they are gone.
Anne Canning is a teacher at Saint John’s Primary School, Derry.