Being fifty-something, I love to see old stuff get new life.
When I saw this photo of my four-year old grand niece Miss A looking gorgeous all decked out in “nanny’s treasures” I saw a whole lot more.
It dawned on me that, if she were alive, my mum would be Miss A’s great grandmother, not her nanny. My sister K is Miss A’s nanna … that indisputably marks (in my head at least) a changing of the guard, the handing down of the generational mantle to the next. It’s as if the “treasures” go on ahead to signal the change to come.
This photo took me back to the day, long before Miss A was born, when my four sisters and I sat around a table and divvied up Mum’s jewellery and special stuff after she passed away.
We’d had some of it valued and between us we knew what was what. But It was an emotional time and, once we were done, I recall a sense of pride that our relationships had survived, that we managed what was a very tricky process with fairness and understanding, each determined not to create any ill-feeling.
Divvying up is pretty much a forty-, fifty- and sixty-something responsibility … a right of passage, if you like. At the time, (for me) it felt less like a right and more like a ghastly, burdensome obligation.
Luckily, the big-ticket items divided readily amongst the five of us. We were left with a bundle of costume trinkets and pieces that we couldn’t part with (just yet). We tucked them away for a later decision … for a rainy day.
Just a few months later my three sisters and I sat around a table and divvied up our sister Gay’s jewellery and special stuff, after she had passed away suddenly. That was even harder; emotions had stockpiled and our family dynamics had changed … forever.
Again, we journeyed our way through the process, relationships intact, and were left with a “rainy day” cache of curios that we added to Mum’s “rainy day” bundle.
More than six years later, that rainy day has arrived and Miss A delights in dressing up in “nanny’s treasures”. After Mum passed and then Gay, we were so busy looking back … I think we forgot to look forward and imagine how our family would keep changing and evolving as the years went by, that there would be new joys and tears, new souls to help fill the gaps. We had no idea what a rainy day might bring.
Now I look at Miss A in that photo I’m taken back to when I was her age and dressing up in my mum’s and my nanny’s baubles. I can see Mum wearing those very earrings during the 60s!
But Miss A is also carrying me forward. I’m future-thinking and wondering if any of these sparkles will survive the journey on down to Miss A’s offspring and eventually her grandies. If not, there will be new jewels, new memories, new pages in our family story to hand on with love … it’s all a bit circle-of-life, isn’t it?
It is what it is.
Here’s to rainy days.
Photo: courtesy of Ebony Courtney