The last few days I spent at my Grandparents house with my sisters and cousin sorting through all that is contained within. My Aunt, who has lived here all her life, is moving on and moving out. It is a mammoth task. She has lived here for a very long time and within these walls, a lifetime of love and laughter, sadness and sorrow, joy and contentment has lived.
We reminisced and laughed at memories of times spent there, of Sunday roasts, of Grandma and her eccentric little ways of getting the attention back to her, of my grandfather, a quiet loving man - a gentle giant. Many of these stories I can only vaguely remember as I am the youngest of us all.
But I do remember the sense of anticipation driving to their house on holidays and the smell of the seaside as we got nearer. I remember turning into their driveway and being so happy to be at their house and being embraced by them as only grandparents can do with their grandchildren. The summery and salty night air wafting through the shutters. Of the floods of 1974, where much of Brisbane was inundated with floodwaters, walking out with my sister (I was 11 and she was 13) in the flooded street with water up to our armpits - such fun we were having, despite our grandmother on the fronts steps begging for us to come back - she was worried we would be swept out to sea - it was all such an adventure to us (and we were lucky we weren't swept out to sea as we were actually one with Moreton Bay at this stage and The Sea was a few feet away from us !!)
The path along which Grandma would whack a toad or two !!
Memories of my father and his girls walking out on the beach at Sandgate at low tide - the sand was filled with jellyfish and of course Dad thought it a great joke to throw them at his screaming girls. My eldest sister doing the same to no 2 sister, which horrified her. There was no holding back for youngest of us either - we copped the jellyfish plonked into our bathers when we weren't looking !! Childhood memories. Aren't they the best !!t
Amongst the piles of belongings were a few photo albums. Old dusty covers that held decades of photos of past and present generations. All of us took great interest in the photos of the past and took photos of these photos. Many of the faces we recognised but some weren't familiar. If it wasn't for my aunt and her clear memory, these faces and their place in the family picture, would go on unrecognisable and be lost. We need the words to connect the dots. Photos are just photos. Without words, there's no explanation, no meaning.
What are we to our future family when all is said and done? Do they want that fine bone china dinner set that you bought at one of the post Christmas sales one year or that lace doily that sat underneath one of the many ornaments in your house?
Or would they want to have a piece of you and your history, recorded by you of your life, as you lived it. The good, the bad and the sometimes ugly. Photos of people and places that made up your life - your home and family life as well as friends and work colleagues, holidays and home life. Photos and memories of what IT truly was all about. Not just the 'events' in our lives but a real picture of the everyday.
I found a receipt the other day. It was for a life insurance policy that have got in arrears (they too sometimes got way layers in paying their bills!) On that folded piece of paper was my grandmothers signature and was for payment of 8 pounds to bring the policy up to date. It is dated 6th October 1952 - 62 years ago nearly to the day. This little piece of paper tells me more than any china cup and saucer ever will. I have her handwriting on it and I will treasure it.
This upcoming generation won't have photos in albums to look back on, to find tucked away in boxes in years to come. They will all be digital, hidden away on iPhones and iCloud storage, on Facebook and Instagram - and then only photos that 'look good', the selfie or the new pair of shoes with filters and apps to make even the most plain photo something amazing.