In my grand-parents’ old house there is a room where past lives. It is filled with old things, things that belonged to them.
After my grand-parents passed away, no one in the family had the heart to go through these things, so they were brought to this room and left there while the rest of the house was undergoing a very much needed renovation.
To me, this particular room is like a chest of wonders. Old photos, books, portraits, objects and letters are there like old friends, welcoming whoever comes in.
Every object in this room holds a story, from an old yellowish letter to the painting with a hole made by a WWII bullet. Some of these stories are untold and forgotten, but it doesn’t make them any less fascinating.
I like to imagine that objects remember the hands that have touched them, the voices that once rang around them, laughter and tears, faces and events.
My grand-dad was thoroughly preserving the family history, trying to make us see how important it is for us. And I think, I finally understand his point. I mean, really understand.
One of the biggest hidden fears of every human is to fade away without a trace. Consciously and unconsciously, we are always trying to leave something behind, something to be remembered for. We make kids, create artwork, build buildings and so on. No matter what are the reasons we come up with to explain our desire to do it, it finally boils down to one thing: we don’t want to be forgotten.
However, what really surprises me is that we want others to remember us, but most of us don’t really care about extending the favor and remembering others. For instance, so many people know nothing about their own families, about where they really come from, who were their great-grandparents and what they did. We read biographies of celebrities not even realizing that the stories of our own family members can be just as interesting and hold probably even more nuggets of wisdom and important lessons for us.
I recently found this old photo of a young, beautiful girl. I don’t know who she is and there is no one left to ask about her. But once this girl lived, laughed and loved. She probably closed her eyes and made her wish when the clock rang twelve, marking the beginning of the New Year 1900. She had probably seen the very first movie and lived through the beginning of the World War 1. Her life was a unique story, as fascinating as any great book. And just like every one of us, she wanted to be remembered. But it so happened, that apart from this old photo with the date “1901”, nothing is left. Even her name was lost in the folds of history. Maybe her great-great-grandchildren live today, but they don’t even know that this lovely young girl was their great-great-grandmother. How sad is that!
Did she deserve to be forgotten? What if it were me on this photo? The girl whom no one remembers?
The experience of all mankind is composed of memories. Memories are an important part of what makes us human. They are probably the only place where time really stops. Let’s cherish them. For our own good.
Kateryna Kei, Author of Raven Boy