I saw five good plays at the Shaw Festival, but my favorite was “When the rain stops falling”. It takes place over several generations, ending in 2039. The drama ends with a young man meeting with his father, whom he hasn’t seen since he was seven years old. The father gives him a suitcase of various objects he has received from his ancestors. He doesn’t quite know ‘why’ these things were important to them (although the audience knows, having seen the play). The ghosts of his ancestors gather around as he gives the boy these hodgepodge items. As he reads the postcards his grandfather gave his father, the generations recite the writings.

I liked this scene very much. The living inherit items from their ancestors, but the stories are lost along the way. There is reverence, mystery, and frustrated questions. Why did mother keep this mawkish item? Why was ‘this of all things’ handed down. Often we know the item was important and should be kept, but the stories are lost. Forever.

I badger my parents all the time “to write things down”. For example, on her dresser is a figurine. It was purchased by great-grandmother on her honeymoon which consisted of a round the world cruise. She has jewelry made by my great great great grandmother. Even the guest bed has a story – it was made by another ancestor for his wedding, and has been used by five generations so far.

I wouldn’t have known most of this had I not been curious. Mother never told me as she assumed “I knew”. Upon my mother’s death, I would have tossed all this out as trash.

Old photographs are the worst. What was obvious to generations #1-2 may be not so in 3-4, and by #5 they are strangers. On my dresser is a photo of my grandfather, which I like because he is wearing a bow tie. An aunt mentioned – in passing – this was taken in Florida the evening they decided to change their minds about staying. It was his travel clothes to return home. If they had stayed they could all have died in a hurricane that devastated the area that weekend.
I label all photos, even the obvious one. I write down the stories of Items with memories.  I suppose I do this not so much to save things from going to Goodwill, but to have people remember the stories. And remember me.

I want future generations to remember me as Spo, not ‘some relative I suppose”.

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