The past in the present

The past, and objects that mark the passage of time may, for some, bring to light fond childhood memories. For others, it may bring back the sharp pain of the loss of a loved one. Some people may think of dusty, unused items and others may be reminded of well-used, much-loved objects.

Do you have something old and musty lurking in the back of a cupboard somewhere? Something that is so hideous it must be kept hidden away, yet it’s a link to your past; part of a legacy left to you and you can’t get rid of it even if you tried because you’d feel too guilty? Or, are you one of the fortunate ones that have a beloved object that’s been handed down to you, entrusted to your care. Something that is near and dear to your heart regardless of its monetary value, even though it may well be worth something?

I am fortunate to own 2 items that I treasure – One from my mom’s side and one from my dad’s side of the family. Both happened to have been gifted to me by each of my grandmothers. And oddly, they both bear the sentiment of their respective marriages, which really is ironic seeing as the institution of marriage in my experience was not a very successful one.

I came across the trousseau piece handed down to me by my maternal grandmother last week (the inspiration for this post!). It also happened to be her birthday that same day by coincidence and it reminded me how special it was, and I showed it to K. He was amazed to hear it had been handmade by my Ouma. “Ouma” is the Afrikaans word for “Grandmother”. Though they are all South African and are all from Afrikaans roots, in my mind, I have English grandparents (referring to their language choice when speaking to us as children as opposed to actually being British), and Afrikaans grandparents, so I have a Ouma and I have a Gran.

When my Ouma married my grandfather (my Oupa) back in the 1940’s(?), she was gifted balls of yarn, by my grandfather’s mother, as a wedding gift. I’m not sure how much yarn she was gifted, or what else she has made from it, but she crocheted an overlay for me and gave it to me as a wedding gift. I hope I describe it well enough and do it justice because it is one of the most special things I own. A small crochet needle was used to create this intricate, delicate design. It measures about 1m square and is so, so beautiful. I’m afraid we are pretty hard-wearing on our things around the house and I don’t want to damage it. So I’m afraid, for now, it lives safely tucked away in a wooden chest my dad made, in our lounge.

The other item I cherish was gifted to me by my paternal grandmother (my Gran) on my 21st birthday. It’s the diamond and ruby engagement ring my grandfather gave to her when he proposed to her in the 1940’s(?). It’s really an old-school setting, and exudes an air of ‘vintage’. I also wore this ring as my “something old” the day I got married. It’s made from 9ct yellow gold, with a classical pavé setting of 3 rubies, surrounded by 12 diamonds. It has the number 42584 engraved in the inside, which I only noticed when I looked to check the gold used to make the ring. My gran unfortunately doesn’t recall the numbers and says she thinks they may be something to do with the jeweler where she bought it.

It’s not something I wear very often, I usually save it for special occasions or for those rare days when I feel I need something classy to round-off a look/outfit. I am also terrified I lose it – Not that I think it’s worth an excessive amount of money, rather, it’s the sentimental value of this item that I’ll never be able to replace should I lose it.

I hope to pass both these items to my child(ren) one day, and in so doing, keep alive the legacy entrusted to me by both my Ouma and my Gran. Money can buy many things, but it can’t rebuild the past – Re-evaluate those musty old items, you may come to realise that their value is more apparent than you initially may have thought.

Nicky

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