Friday, 25 February 2011

Sepia Saturday: Keeping It Simple

Until quite recently, these items, once belonging to my maternal grandfather, took pride of place on my bedside cabinet. He died in 2002 but, such was the impact he had on my life, it was a while until I felt ready to place these things safely away, among my other treasured possessions.


My grandfather was a man who lived a simple life. A countryman, a craftsman, a softly spoken, placid man, who was always there. He offered a strong male presence, influence, and unconditional love.

Once, he said of money, 'there's no taste to nothing, but you only need enough." He maintained to the last, "clothes don't make the man." And, while I had my head in an academic cloud, he quietly urged me not to overdo it.

He had simple tastes, yet he could appreciate those things of wonder that existed outside his sphere.

Fortunately for me, I have these items as a permanent reminder of the man. A small lozenge tin, polished back to the bare metal by the lining of his jacket pocket and his regular handling. He kept his pocket watch in the tin, to protect it while he was working in the woods. As a small boy, I was fascinated by the soft, whispering ticking of this well used timepiece.

Also in the tin, a neatly folded one pound note, for emergencies (a half an ounce of Old Holborn hand-rolling tobacco).

Aside from those things I've already mentioned, I have his pen-knife, with blades worn down with years of sharpening (he couldn't bear to have cutting tools with no edge to them). Most poignant of all, there's my grandmother's wedding ring. Worn to wire thickness through the best part 69 years, it eventually snapped. Typically, the man who had placed the ring on the young hand of the girl he loved, in 1933, wanted to mend it, himself. A crude attempt, maybe. But in his mind, the right thing to do. A seemingly, simple solution.

22 comments:

  1. A delightful collection of artefacts and memories from a gentler age...

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  2. what a lovely man your Grandfather was....gorgeous photo of those poignant remnants

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  3. Each and every one of these are treasures, as are your memories of your well loved grandfather. I, too, have treasures such as these.

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  4. Your grandfather sounds such a nice man. And I bet he would be delighted that you've kept those treasured things especially the wedding ring.

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  5. small, unimportant items to remember them by, they're so much more evocative than the grand gesture. Make sure you leave similar items to Speckly Woo.

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  6. It takes us a while to close certain doors... though this is a door I suspect will remain slightly open. After all, you have some of his most precious belongings... dear to his heart... valueless. Thank you for this lovely post, Martin.

    Nevine

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  7. I think I would have liked your grandfather very much. I love that you preserved these items. They are strong evidence that though he lived a simple life, he really valued the things he had and made the most of them.

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  8. Beautiful, Martin! I have similar treasures: my grandfather's walking stick, my grandmother's worn sewing scissors -- the touch of their hands is still warm on these keepsakes.

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  9. My father had a watch like that.I don't know what happened to it. I still have a gold watch presented to him after 25 years at a cement works.

    Those pound notes didn't wear your pockets out like the coins that replaced them.

    Hang on to the keepsakes.

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  10. Those are lovely objects, and your story explaining them is even more wonderful. I have become the archivist of our family and have quite a few things like this. Some of the things I own belong to people I never knew in my lifetime, but I feel their possessions bring me closer to them. Both my grandparents have been gone for many years but I still love them dearly, think of them very often, and occasionally feel they are near me.

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  11. well there went another comment, so here repeating, a great array of items that bring memories alive. Hubby's aunt Marie who lived to be 98 and was "poor" always said, "don't need money, only enough to pay the bills, the rest is a bother.." This reminded me of that.

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  12. Beautifully written. Sadly I don't have any such treasures to link with the past, only a few photos.

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  13. Oh so very true, clothes don't make a person...he sounds like a very wise man. When my grandfather (that I knew the best) died I chose to take his everyday bible, his weathered cowboy (everyday hat)and his old worn empty wallet (except for a photo) tucked inside of his second wife, not my grandmother.....his bible so worn is still stuck away and brought down very little...memories of our loved ones live on inside of us...don't they!

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  14. Such a lovely set of recollections. So rich a life in such simple things.

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  15. A lovely photo fitting perfectly with what you've said. Obviously what he said got through to you since you appreciate the simplicity of these small items.

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  16. I think many of us have collections of this treasures, talismans really. I have my grandfather's pocketknife here by my keyboard. Both because it is useful and it lets me keep in touch with his memory too.

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  17. Thanks everyone. Yes, these simple things carrying such deep meaning for us, don't they. I think Vicki puts it perfectly, "...the touch of their hands is still warm on these keepsakes." So true.

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  18. Hi Martin, oh such wonderful memories. Of all of what you shared, the wedding ring store makes me well up. Thank you so much for telling us about your Grandfather.

    I appreciate your visit, and am wishing you a week of blessings.

    Kathy

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  19. You do well to remind us Martin that objects can be Sepia, just as much as photographs can.

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  20. Martin, it's good to see you post on Sepia Saturday again. Your words convey so much about your grandfather - and about his love of his wife, too. This was such a tender tribute to him. I'm glad you kept his few things out for a while - sometimes doing that seems to keep the person close - and that you took them out again to share with us. Thank you.

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  21. It was inspirational to read your remembrances of your grandfather and to think about the impact that those of us who are grandparents may be having on young lives.

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