This week my great Aunt died. While I hadn’t spent a lot of time with her in recent years, she was a big part of my childhood family-gathering memories. She is also the last of that generation to go, which opens up a whole plethora of feelings which I won’t be exploring here.
Next week my parents and I will likely go down and start clearing out her house, disposing of possessions that would have meant so much to my great Aunt, but to us are just things. It’s led to the inevitable review of my own life and all the collections in my house. How would my stuff look through the eyes of someone else?
I look at the biology text book that I’ve lugged from Adelaide, to Brisbane, to Melbourne and back to Adelaide as I’ve moved around the country. It’s well out of date, and I haven’t opened it in years, but every time I look at it, I have fond memories of all the hours I spent pouring over it for Uni when I still believed that I could work as a zoologist. No-one else will see that book that way.
There is the stuffed toy that was my favourite as a child, the framed drawing done for me by a friend at a time when I needed it, the glasses I bought myself as a gift to when I had my first paid publication, and of course the beautiful Archaeopteryx that I’d wanted for as long as I could remember and a special boyfriend managed to track down for me as a wonderful surprise.
All these things are just things, but they are the things that make up my past and colour my future. I just hope that I can give my Aunt’s things the respect and attention that they deserve.