Sunday, October 30, 2011

Treasured Things (and the memories that go with them)

Over the 39 years that Bob and I have been together we have collected a lot of "stuff".  As we approach retirment we look at all that "stuff" and know it's time to start paring down.  I spent a part of yesterday cleaning out the old rolltop desk that shows in the back of this picture.  The desk belonged to our beloved Papa.  When Papa passed away it took Nanny more than a year to come to the painful, but sensible decision to move out of the house she and Papa had spent 52 years in, creating their own memories and raising their five children.  I don't remember how decisions were made about what went where but I ended up with Papa's desk.  I can still see him sitting there after dinner doing whatever it was he did.  Once he retired, he kept a journal faithfully and I know some of the time at the desk was spent writing.  I do know that Papa paid the bills and that some of his time at the desk was about looking after this part of their life together. I do know that when I look at the desk even now, I see Papa sitting there.

After cleaning out the desk I popped an e-mail to our four kids (really?? there has to be a better word for adult "children") asking if anyone had interest and/or room.  I should know my kids better and I should have thought a bit more before sending that e-mail because now we have to decide how to decide about who gets the desk.  This also got me thinking about other things around our house and the memories attached to them.

On the bookcase in our family room sits an old hand-held school bell.  When I look at that bell I can honestly hear the sound of it ringing out over the hutterite colony my Gramma Dot taught at in the 60's.  My two brothers and I lived with our Gramma Dot and Grampa Albert on that hutterite colony for a few months and we attended the one-room schoolhouse with the children from the colony.  I can't remember whether it was Irricana or Beisker.  I do remember it looked much like the one in the picture below.
Life on the colony was interesting and that is a whole other story in itself.  What I remember about the bell was that Gramma Dot could control the whole class of students (not that Hutterite children took much controlling:) with the promise of ringing that bell in the morning, at the end of recess and again at the end of lunch.  My Gramma Dot was a bit of a nomad in her retired years.  She had a trailer by the beach in Comox and a home in Calgary but spent much of her time travelling from coast to coast in her yellow truck with the purple home-made box/camper on the back.  While she was away travelling one year the propane tank in the trailer blew up, sent the whole trailer through the air landing several feet away from the foundation.  Lucky she was away!  Before she got back to Comox to deal with the insurance etc. much of what was in her trailer was ransacked and taken.  Gramma Dot was more than a bit of a pack-rat and I remember wondering if the old bell had been one of the items taken but luckily it was not.  My grandkids love it when they get a chance to grab that old wooden handle and ring that bell as loud as they can.  When they do, I can hear the laughter and noise that comes with a playground of children returning to class.  I can see the boots and dresses of the Hutterite girls and the black pants and jackets of the boys as they run up the stairs, eager, yes eager, to learn.

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