Pieces of the Past

When my dad returned home last week from England, he brought with him a slew of boxes and envelopes, which accompanied him to my doorstep this past Saturday.  Inside ranged everything from childhood photographs of me to my grandad’s pocket watch, complete with a receipt from fifty years ago, to my nan’s prayer book from when she was a girl, accompanied by a miniature gold St. Christopher necklace.  We reminisced for hours about times gone by, and explored the history vaults to learn incredible things about our family’s past.

While he’d been out there, his main goal was to get the family together to show my nan, still in hospital, that there are people that care for her immensely.  Some of these people hadn’t seen her (or each other) in twenty years. Four fifths of my lifetime.  Things which can drive people apart for years can seem so insignificant at times like these, and naturally, the reunion was emotional.  But what made me happiest wasn’t just the news of a reunion, but the report back from my dad.  When he’d first arrived, he said, my nan had looked like she’d “given up.”  Frail, weak, alone – given  up on the world.  By the end of the week she’d been reunited with her own sister, her sons, daughter and grandchildren, and was a “different woman”.  Colour in her cheeks and a smile on her face, and to hear those words warmed my heart.

He’d also met some other relatives while out there, one of which had been researching the family’s genealogy, and sent me some very interesting information along with the box of treasures my dad carried home.  I saw original birth certificates dating back to the 1800s, newspaper articles and letters from the 1940s, old birthday cards from my dad, as a boy, to his mum, and stories and secrets wilder than I could’ve imagined.  His dad’s wallet, home to several old photographs of his children, his wife, and letters we daren’t open, I imagine etched with words from the heart – words which may have been lost over time, but remained immortalised on a piece of paper he carried with him always.  My dad also gave me a small cap – as seen in this photograph of him as a boy with his mum and dad, loved, gleeful and surrounded by pigeons! I’ve always adored this photo, and have it framed on my desk here as I write this, and now I, too, have a little piece of our history.

The last few months, as you know, have been hard for me, being so far from my nan, and the family really coming together again after all this time really made me think.  How easy it is to allow the little disagreements with loved ones blow completely out of proportion, and before too long, days, months, years go by. We can be so quick to allow a disagreement manifest into a full on grudge, which, like a thief in the night, before too long has stolen away a chunk of your life – a piece of time that can never be taken back.  It usually takes something big to make us realise that the power given to a grudge will only repay us with a harsh regret; a sharp awakening to the reality of  time lost.  There too often is never a second chance to be had to go back, to try again, to instead be filled with swift apologies, good memories, assurances of love.  I’m so thankful my nan was able to be reunited with her family, and so very proud of my dad for lifting the veil of bitterness to reveal what’s really more important.

It’s given me food for thought.  Life is flying by ever more quickly with every day that fleets across my path, and though so often in times of disagreement, I’m quick to want to move forward – I know I’m guilty of allowing things to affect me for far too long afterward.  I allow my heart to wallow if wounded, to perpetuate despondency instead of more quickly realising that life really is too short, and we should do all we can to spend as much of it as possible making the most of the time (and the people) we’re given.  It’s something I think we can all work on.

I don’t want to give any more time than necessary to conflict or sadness. I want to fill my days with laughter and love, and look back at a shoebox in fifty years full of a new generation of letters, memories and happiness.  Let’s make the most of the days we’ve been given, yes? And next time we’re faced with post-argument remorse, let’s try to remember, in the subsequent moments, that we really do have a choice.  We can choose to swallow our pride, and get on with making the best of life.

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44 comments

  1. We oftentimes forget the most important things in life. There are many evils residing on our minds that prevents us from seeing the wisdom of forgiveness and humility. Oftentimes, it too late when we realize this. You are right, we do have a choice. 🙂

    1. I think forgiveness is something we all struggle with – and choosing to swallow our pride even when we believe we’re in the right. I’m just trying to change my ways so I don’t let so much time go by – and be wasted.

  2. I’m glad that his meet up with your Nan was so positive & that you’re trying to learn from all that family fall out and make sure it doesn’t happen in your life.

  3. I completely agree with this post! I currently have 2 uncles (brothers) who haven’t spoken to each other in about 5 years. The “adults” know what happened but none of us kids do. Our family won’t tell us. And all we can think about is that he is YOUR BROTHER and you profess to be a Christian and love Jesus, yet unforgiveness has festered in your soul for so long. It’s really sad because one of my uncle’s hasn’t spent a Christmas/Thanksgiving with us for years (and he lives in our area/I like him better!).

    Forgiveness is something that’s hard to truly give out but it really does make you feel so much better when you do!

    Love this post, LOVE YOU!

    1. Thanks my love ❤

      This is what baffled me when I heard just how long some of these people had gone without speaking. And when something bad happens and there's a risk of that person maybe no longer being here, the realisation that your time may be limited in which to make amends is enough to get people's arse into gear!! But it shouldn't have to take a health turn for the worse, or decades to get over something and just be the bigger person. Although I realise too often this is far easier said than done, and I think there's definitely something to be said for having an honest "this is how I feel and this is how I WANT things to be" discussion as opposed to a "you're in the wrong and I'm not talking to you until you admit it" discussion. It's all about choosing to take the easier or more difficult road.

  4. Well, well said, Em.

    I’ve been thinking about you a lot the last few days.
    My Granddad passed away this last Sunday and I am actually flying back home (to Germany) this afternoon to attend his funeral.

    I am even more heart-broken after this happened to me, that you can’t go back to England to see your Nan! I hope you can very soon… before something happens to her. You need to see her again, Em. I didn’t get this chance.

    Family is so, so important. I hope more people would realize that all the little quarrels are not worth losing such an important part of your life.

    1. Thank you so much for your thoughts and for sharing – I am so, so sorry to hear about your granddad. We are definitely planning on going to see my nan this year – we can’t really afford to, but seeing her is infinitely more important than money, so I definitely think over the summer we’ll be heading over. My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family ❤

  5. There is a new show coming on TV here called, Who Do You Think You Are. It follows celebrities as they dig into their past to see what they can find about their ancestry. This post reminds me of that show.

    There is a part of me that totally agrees on you – don’t let the small stuff get to you. Focus on life and love and laughter. But, there’s another part of me that knows you can’t fully appreciate the good without a dose of the bad. We learn how strong we are as humans, as individuals and as support networks. We learn how to persevere. And by the end, we truly know why the good should be appreciated that much more.

  6. Grrr it’s another stolen British show lol!! I saw the ad for it the other day here, too 🙂 I hope it’s as interesting as the UK one.

    I am absolutely with you on both sides – I think there is definitely something to be said for making the most of your time, and spending as little time negatively and as much time loving as possible. But at the same time I believe there has to be some sense of mutual responsibility for situations that could lead to people not speaking – one person may want to resolve things and accepts their part in things, however if the other party refuses to accept any kind of responsibility it’s difficult to move forward. I’m kind of in one of these situations right now, I’m just hoping the other person will grow up a little and accept some accountability, rather than insisting they’ve done nothing wrong. I do believe we can learn a lot from the bad times – and they are all opportunities from which to grow and build stronger relationships. If both parties are on the same page. 🙂

  7. How i agree with your sentiments…life passes us by too quickly, and it has certainly lifted this side of the family’s spirits to have made contact after nearly 30 years. To see old photo’s of my grandfather, your grandfather and Great Uncle Tom and their parents has been lovely. I never expected to see photographs of my great grandparents and i truly am grateful to your dad for contacting me. x

  8. What a great post (as usual, though… you always have such wonderfully written, inspirational and thought-provoking posts)!

    I’m so glad that the reunion of your family members had such a positive impact on your nan! And your dad is a wonderful man for making it all happen. Disagreements all too easily grow out of proportion, especially within families, and it’s all too sad that people don’t realize what they’re missing out on for days, months, or even years of their lives. Good for you for learning from it!

  9. agreed em, your posts are beautifully inspirational and I am so glad I found your blog. you’re a kindred spirit – a wise soul in a young person’s body, and you give me inspiration to live my own life in a more positive way.

    i’m happy your dad was able to do so much while he was away, it must mean such a lot to your nan and I am glad to hear she’s doing so much better.

  10. I LOVE going back through old pictures and momento’s like that! I did it the last time I was home; me and Eric sat for hours pouring over photo albums from when my parents were young and when I was a baby. It was wonderful!

    I’m so glad your dad was able to bring those things back for you to look through 🙂

    1. Me too! I was such an odd little child lol 🙂 I think there’s a few more boxes to come, I can’t WAIT to see them. I really wish I could see pics of little Sweet too 🙂

  11. so beautifully said, i might quote you 🙂 you have a special dad for working all of that magic in england!

  12. What a wonderful box of treasures. It is so fun to go through that – makes you feel more connected to your past!

    I have been thinking more lately about how precious life is and how fast it passes us by. At times I get so caught up in what is going on and let it upset me. But life is short & it’s not worth holding onto grudges. We need to love each other like crazy & enjoy life while it lasts!!

    1. I loved that there was so much history preserved – I can imagine sitting down with my own grandchildren and showing them pics of us now, all the little things I collected, and all the stuff *I’m* inheriting from my dad’s and his parents’ past too. It’s important to preserve the memories 🙂

  13. I definitely agree! It’s so much fun looking back at your families’ photos/letters. It’s weird to think that our future will be looking back at our lives now. Maybe snooping around and reading our blog if we ever print our posts. 😉 I’m also grateful for the good relationships I have with my relatives and intend on keeping it that way.

    1. I’ve had that idea too! Printing out our blogs. I know there’s a company that makes personal books out of things like blogs, photos etc. and I was wondering if it might be worth doing. Even for ourselves to look back on in 20 years 🙂 (and probably laugh at, haha)

  14. how nice that you have those old photos! i love seeing old shots of my grandparents. it’s a reminder that they were young at one time, even though it seems like they were always ancient.

    i get what you’re saying about life being too short to let ourselves wallow in things that, in the long run, don’t matter. you’re very wise! 🙂

    glad your nan’s spirits were lifted recently–i’m sure it meant a lot to the whole family.

  15. you’re brilliant! I love your positivity! And how amazing to have all that family history to sink your teeth into. I think we never realize how important it is to leave something behind, something for our posterity to know us by.

    I’m glad your nan’s doing better and got to see all the people that love her dearly 🙂

  16. Pride truly is the downfall of every human. I also agree with C.S. Lewis that is the cause of every sin…greed, murder, adultery, etc. All of those things require putting yourself first before another.

    It’s easier said than done to let go of pride during an argument, but I’ve done it! In one infamous fight with a friend where it was getting worse and worse, I finally swallowed my pride and apologized, which ended the fight immediately. haha.

    I love that pic with the pigeons!!

  17. Really needed to read that last paragraph today, just as a reminder, as a reminder to move forward, forge on, hold my head high and smile. Some days its easy to get bogged down in the muck & mire of everyday life. So easy. But I want a fascinating shoebox and scrapbook for my kids to go through someday.

    Glad to hear your Nan is doing better and I pray she continues to be that way.

    xoxo

  18. How lovely! I reallllly love going through things from the past, trinkets, photos, anything. Every time I go visit my parents, I’m only there for a short time before I start going through photographs. It makes me…I don’t know, feel something, something that’s hard to put into words. In a way it makes me feel like a whole person, a person with a past and a beginning and a pre-existence, when my parents were just dating or my grandparents had just met in high school. It makes me feel secure and safe in knowing that somehow, I’ve ALWAYS existed, as a part of them, and they still exist, as a part of me, and it will just keep on going, on down the line, and we’re all just one big connection.

    Ok…um…getting too deep. 🙂 Haha.

    And, I agree that life is too short. I’ve been in danger of having rifts with my family, and in the last couple years I’ve made a huge effort to mend those things. I want us to be wise with the time we have left, not spend it wallowing in resentment. My family should know how much I love them, in spite of what’s happened in the past. The best thing, always, is to move forward, because in the big picture, it’s the little things that count the most! ❤

  19. I’m confident you get this often, but you have an amazing way of wording things! I’m looking forward to reading more of your writing :)! Thank you for commenting on my post over at Cheryl’s spot :)!

  20. Pingback: Dad «

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