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Friday, 27 March 2015

We get old but material objects endure

When your parent becomes forgetful you should take steps to safeguard their material treasures, at least that's what I've found. In my mother's case I took three diamond rings she owns when she became forgetful and put them in a safe place in my apartment up on the Coast, but other things went missing after that time, including an antique bangle and a pearl necklace. You never know what people will do when they become aware that someone has become frail and vulnerable. People's worst instincts emerge and precious things go missing. It is a shame. We are so frail (and I don't mean only the elderly).

In the past few days I have been going through my parents' records again and sorting out what is useful from what is merely ephemeral or valuable only to the people involved. In some cases I have taken things aside and put them in a safe place with the intention of contacting the third person and sending the things to them if they want them. I never know what to do with letters, for example, but I believe that it is customary to send them back to the person they originated from, in cases like these.

My mother however had several precious items of jewellery but now most of them have gone. Whether people have taken advantage of my mother or whether she has gifted them to someone, then forgotten what she did, I don't really know. I do know in the case of the antique bangle that it has gone missing because there is a valuation certificate issued by a jeweller but there is no bangle.

It is such a shame. Things that my parents have had in their house have been given away to other relatives, too. There was the dining table and the portrait of a woman that went to my cousin and her husband. Then there was the kitchen sideboard that went to another cousin and his wife. People come around when a household is disintegrating and see what can be salvaged. They simply ask for things and things are given to them. It is so sad in a way. In another way it is a relief because it means that so many things do not have to be disposed of, or thought of. I do not know, for example, what I would do with a heavy wooden dining table with interleaves plus six wooden chairs upholstered in thick cloth. It is better that that have gone to a good home where they can be valued and looked after.

I have many things from those days, like the portrait of granny that my parents thought enough of to salvage from my move to Japan, and to keep in their apartment on the Coast (or at least, in the garage). I had it framed a few years ago and now it hangs on my wall. I wonder what I will eventually do with it when my time comes to leave this world. Indeed, I hope that there will be someone who cares enough about granny to take the painting I made of her in 1981 when I was a young man, and keep it in their house. There are other things as well. We are custodians for these things for a time in this world and then we move on. Then someone else has to become custodian in our place. The circle continues.

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