Monday, February 20, 2012

What We Keep


As many of you know, my dad passed away suddenly before Thanksgiving.  It has been way harder than I ever imagined to deal with grief, loss, and the fact that I can't call him on the phone, make him dinner anymore, or tell him how much I love him.  To hear his jokes, stories and the fact that he is proud of me.  I am the keeper of the family history and photographs, so I've been going through every box, album, and 32 carousels of slides. A lifetime of memories. I loved revisiting our 2 family homes, family gatherings, friends and the endless amount of 'family' pictures from birth to the time we all left the nest, and my parents life as a couple, who traveled the world.
an empty carousel, now one of 32. 

My dad seemed to really enjoy taking pictures of waterfalls, sunsets, and mountain views.  I wonder if he ever asked himself 'who will see these pictures in years to come?'  He and I shared the love of photographing flowers, and I saved them in a separate box.  This has made me re-think the pictures that I do take, and to delete them as I load them onto my digital picture program.  This is the discard pile, and I have taken many photos of this pile, as I think it would make great Spoonflower fabric.  Another way to keep them, without keeping them.

and then I started taking photos of things that remind me of him from his tool box.  I reflect.  I remember.  This phrase keeps coming to mind "what we keep, to remind us who we are."

I may not keep all of these things physically, but I have a record of them in photographs

These are from his shoe shining kit.  I wonder how old the Esquire Rubgum is?

His pancake flipper, measuring tape, scissors, old screwdriver, box of nails, and the ice pick with the red handle.  Who knows, these collections may end up in a series of art quilts some day...as the 'what we keep' series.
and then there is this...tears immediately flooded my cheeks.  My dad played catch with me and I used his glove when I first began to play baseball.

14 comments:

  1. This brought tears to my eyes. My dad and mom have been gone for many years, and I still miss them. The sorrow mellows with time, but he will always be in your heart and on your mind.

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  2. This is poignant beyond description.

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  3. So many "things" are so hard to part with when someone dies. Mostly, I think, the things they worked with, used with their hands. They seem to hold a bit of the person's spirit. I often go to estate sales and when I see old photos or a well-used tool I wonder how the family can bear to part with it so easily.

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  4. Oh Jamie, I have walked down that road before. I still have four boxes of slides that I need to convert to digital and some to print so that I can display them. My brother kept the ancient tools from the garage, even tho he lives in an apartment in LA. I have my Dad's dental tools, and two unfinished sculptures (marble) that in my wildest dreams I will most likely never get to work on. Broken camera parts are part of the equation too. I'm contemplating an assemblage. I figure they will all let me know when the time comes to start it. Lovely post. Very meaningful and thanks for sharing.

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  5. I love the photos of your dad's things. There's got to be a quilt idea in there somewhere, don't you think? The affection you have for your dad is so evident here.

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  6. Beautiful post; I relate totally, but to the loss of my Nana many years ago, as well as the value of memories over possessions. The first year is the toughest, to be sure, but we find ways to cope; though I will admit that I had a cry over my Nana just last night, and she has been gone for more than 20 years now.. Keep your memories, and cherish them; and never discard anything that doesn't feel just right to let go of.. ox

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  7. You could make some kind of mobile with the slides and have them hanging up in the sunlight. Clip them together and put them on the front of a wall hanging. Some many of these are thrown out and distroyed. All those wonderful memories of places that will change. With all the steam punk ideas out there, make a suit of armore with those as the parts to protect you.

    My parents are both gone. The pain does lessen, but not the part where you miss them.

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  8. lovely, powerful post and photos. thanks Jamie, for sharing it with us.

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  9. I think your photos of your Dad's things make wonderful memoirs of what your Dad did and who he was. I hope you'll consider framing and hanging them.

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  10. These difficult times do remind you of who you are. A beautiful tribute to your father and your own experience.

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  11. It is a wonderful idea to photograph these things, even if you decide not to keep all of them. I agree with what Terry said about the items that were used by hands as having special value... I treasure my mother's thimble, and my grandmother's rolling pin, as you treasure your father's baseball glove. They have such power and magic in them. Love and comfort to you.

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  12. Wow, Jamie, this hits home! My dad also passed in November.............going through the same thing! We haven't touched the thousands of vacation slides yet , so many other boxes with treasures inside! Everything has memories attached.

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  13. I love this post. My dad died suddenly and unexpectedly in 2006 - I totally understand that reeling feeling. It was harder for me because we lived 900 miles apart and I didn't see him every day, so it felt like normal - until I wanted to tell him something.

    I have his old tool chest (with most of the tools missing), his glasses, the nub of a pencil that was sharpened with a knife (he used them til they were 1/2" long) and his paintbrush (He painted houses on the side. I worked for him from age 12..) Just last week I unpacked a box and there was a screwdriver in it that belonged to him.... he must have left it here on his last visit in 2004.

    So happy you have parts of your dad to keep and share!!

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