Monday, May 25, 2015

Philatelism: A Family Secret

For the last few weeks, my attention has been focused elsewhere, and for this I am profoundly grateful. The move from Flah-rida was not as seamless as we all would have liked. My dad had some hidden medical issues which were compounded by a fall, which have been further compounded by a broken hearing aid. Dad's improving over at the rehab side of assisted living, Mom's less frantic since we finished unpacking their stuff and now she can make her own way over to see Dad between PT and OT sessions. They're even dining together in the regular dining room, which makes them both happy. Of course, periodic appearances of Little Miss go a long way in making things right. And I actually got to spend an evening with dog and vacuum cleaner, which made dog happy.

Now, all of this may sound boringly domestic, but what it did was get me away from the news cycle. This was a good thing because my head was, once again, in danger of exploding from the garbage being strewn about as news. Look, I get it. I understand that the parade of would-be GOP clowns has a need to distinguish themselves one from another. And I get that they are going to paint this administration with a rusty brush while declaring it's a total failure, a global catastrophe in the making, and the end of life as we know it, but that is just crap. And I am not the in mood to talk about it.

I'd rather talk about the stuff I've been unpacking in my house. There were a bunch of boxes delivered to my address, stuff in need of handling that my folks were no longer able to deal with...the ephemera of 71 years of married life. Letters from my grandmother to my mother, postcards from friend Norman when he had to move his own family to Norway for a couple of years, some rather dishy pictures of my mom and her friends. And slides. About a zillion slides. Instead of sleeping the other night, I got the stack loader working on our ol' Kodak Carousel, and laughed myself into a stupor. There was some great stuff in there, pictures I don't recall ever seeing before. 

Like this one. I'm the Brownie in the middle of the first row, but there are three other Brownies in that picture who saw this on Face Book. One of the four aforementioned Brownies was excited because she had no pictures of herself as a Brownie. How exciting is that??? Maybe not to you, but to three former Brownies who reconnected a while back on FaceBook, this is great stuff.

I also posted a few family pictures, made by taking a photograph of the slide projected on the wall. Yes, people, I know I can do this with a scanner thingee, but I don't have one yet and I was too excited to just say, "later." And in that moment, I realized there are lots of pictures that need to be shared, and being able to share them digitally means all the cousins can get copies that won't end up being tossed for lack of labels. It's incredibly easy for everyone to get a copy of Uncle Marc sleeping with a cigar in his mouth. That is so Uncle Marc. 

And while every family has its collection of stuff, everyone has heard that sigh, the one that comes with the lament, "Gee, I wish I had a copy of that picture." Well, now, all my cousins will be able to pick and choose the ones they want. In addition to the slides...and there are hundreds of those....there are two rather large shipping cartons full of unsorted loose photographs just waiting to be scanned and labeled. 

Scott's # RW-27
But wait...there's more. The stamp collection. Yes, I come from a family of philatelists. I dabbled in the art when I was a kid, but Dad took it seriously for a long time. Beginning in the 30s, people started saving their cancelled stamps for him, especially the ones on envelopes that came bearing news from the Old Country. As Dad got older, he stopped collecting individual stamps in favor of plate blocks. I have hundreds of little glassine envelopes in file card boxes, most labeled with their Scott number in my Dad's precise writing. Most. Not all. I do have my work cut out for me there, but at least I know how to find the Scott numbers. As for the cancelled stamps...I've been told to go through them looking for certain things, then see if there's a local philately club that would like to have them for kids to practice with. I am fully aware that stamp collecting is passé, but some of the stamps are incredible. 

All of this makes me wonder about what is important in our lives. Sure, the simple answer is family, maybe security, but isn't there a place for history? Genealogy is such a popular topic these days, and there is much to be said for delving into our familial past, but I have stuff. Is this stuff worth preserving? Will anyone else care? Well, maybe not anyone outside our little circle, but yeah, it's worth having it in some sort of easily transferable media that can go forward.

The legacies we leave our kids are not always asset driven and tangible. There has to be a moral and ethical legacy we give them. We have to be stewards of the land, protecting the real estate of all of planet earth to make sure they have a place to live that will sustain life. And we have to leave them with the sense that they didn't spring fully formed from our heads. That every family has a unique experience, and all families have stories to tell...good, bad, and indifferent. When we tell the stories, from generation to generation, lessons are taught and learned, and there is that kind of continuity that begets stability. Stories are great....but we remember best with illustrations. And I am illustrating as fast as I can.

Bringing the folks here is turning out to be a greater adventure than I anticipated, and I am ready for the ride. 

The Wifely Person's Tip o'the Week
Never let chemo get in the way of living. 


  1. A very nice post. Good conclusions about values in our lives (and belated congrats on your graduation!)

    1. That is not me in the mortarboard! That's the senior son's significant other who got her MBA on Friday. She is one amazing woman!

    2. sorry, presumption on my part given the post about old family photos. Congrats to senior son's SO, then!

  2. I truly enjoyed this post. It mirrored my current state of mind. The political circus requires vigilance, but at the same time real life, the life of family and community requires our persistent involvement. Real life requires that we nurture our humanity and our partnership with the life and systems of the planet. With this, we will know how to bring action to real life goals in the political circus.

  3. Loved the Uncle Marc photo (assuming he didn't burn the house down).