Hidden Treasures Bring Up Old Memories

Hidden Treasures Bring Up Old Memories

It’s always hard to lose a loved one. My dad died earlier this year after a long battle with cancer. We gathered for the funeral, and then a few weeks later my sister and I began going through my dad’s effects. It’s not an easy task, I’ll admit. Everything seems to bring back memories – some good, some painful, some sad. But as we emptied drawer after drawer, we found hidden treasures that will keep the good memories going into the future.           

First of all, we found some of the equipment my dad used years ago when he worked as an insurance adjuster – papers, a briefcase, an old polaroid camera. I can remember seeing dad with the camera in his hands as he headed off to the office. That was high tech stuff in the 1960s! None of these things are worth a plug nickel, but they are priceless to us because they can transport us back to our childhood. 

I had the same experience when we located an old portable radio. It’s not much to look at, but it reminded me of times that my dad and I would listen to the WVU basketball games on the radio. Back then the games weren’t televised. My dad and I would make our own score sheets and then follow the games on the radio, keeping all of the team’s stats. It’s a favorite childhood memory of mine, and I was glad to find the radio we used – beaten and battered, but the memories still alive and well.

We also found things from when my granddad served in the navy during World War II. There were some old, gray blankets I remember sleeping with as a kid. There was also a cigar box filled with memorabilia from his time in the navy. As a kid, I was always fascinated by the colorful currency and odd-looking coins he collected from all of the Pacific ports he visited. We even found a couple of his navy uniforms. But the biggest surprise was a trove of letters that my granddad wrote during the war. I can’t wait to go through them one by one!

Speaking of letters, we also found that my dad had written regularly to my mom during his college years. I read one of the letters just to get a taste. I laughed as I read the opening lines. It seems that my dad was writing from class because he found the professor to be boring. If only I could have tormented my dad about that! But as I kept reading, I was struck my dad’s concern for my mom’s welfare and mine. You see, mom was pregnant with me at the time and dad was worried. Was he making the right choice by pursuing a degree? Would he be able to take care of us like he wanted? As long as I can remember, my dad was a man of quiet confidence. I saw a different side of my dad in this letter. It was reassuring to hear how much he cared and how much of a sacrifice he was willing to make to provide for us.

I’m sure there will be other treasures as we continue to go through dad’s effects. It’s bittersweet, I know, but I think being able to savor those memories, and save them for the future, makes it all worthwhile.

What about you? Have you uncovered a hidden treasure that brought back old memories?

Ever have a moment of nostalgia while looking through old family items? Jay Stoneking describes his recent trip down memory lane while looking through his late father's things.