My parents' house looks pretty much the same as it did when I was growing up. In fact, when my mother's oven went cold in the middle of cooking Thanksgiving dinner last year, she wondered aloud where she would find another oven in that particular shade of poppy red to match the fridge. She loves her kitchen, and although the sink, linoleum, and counters have been recently very tastefully updated, she sees no reason to give up the appliances that she loves. Frankly, neither do I. When they want to improve something, they enjoy doing it, but they do not let the latest trends dictate what they love. I have great respect for that. My father's 1973 Chevy pickup gleams in the driveway as if it just rolled off the lot, and the 1967 Camaro he bought brand new (see photo) is equally cherry, resting safe in storage. They have taught me to appreciate and take care of what I have as well as to appreciate the fun, new, shiny things the world has to offer. We also greatly cherish what the old things in our lives remind us of. My brother and I grew up exploring the quiet, dark upper floors of the museum where my parents work, and we learned about local history out on the sage and juniper-dotted desert. We had so much fun. When I turned on the television last Halloween, I saw my father being interviewed on the news about George, the ghost that haunts the museum where they spend each day working and teaching others about history. George definitely makes his presence known to my parents by bringing them lost items and helping them in their research. Our family has never been afraid of touching and honoring the past. Even Erik enjoys his meals in my old wicker high chair and has had many diapers changed in a family baby buggy that is nearly a century old.
After Brian and I got married, I sold the house I bought five years earlier and was surprised to hear from the Realtor that it was a shame my kitchen had not been updated. Looking around, I realized things hadn't been replaced since 1988, when the house was built. I was completely blind to it because I was perfectly content with what I had and things were built to last back then. It also makes no sense at all to me to discard things that work well to have the latest and greatest. What a waste! I guess the apple doesn't fall far from the tree.
Yesterday I asked my father to retrieve my doll collection from the attic. My parents kindly kept virtually every toy I ever owned. He brought down three dusty boxes containing my formerly most valuable possessions. Everything looked as if I had just packed it away minutes ago. We had a great time going through my things and remembering all of my dolls' names. I found "Baby This 'n That," a doll that waved her arms like a dying cockroach when you squeezed her white baby booties. Unfortunately, my 1974 "Baby That Away" met her demise not long after she was received one Christmas. My little brother accidentally dropped her on the hardwood floor of my bedroom, the hidden door in her crotch flew open, and plastic shrapnel and batteries exploded out of her innards. What a horrific sight! She never went "that away" again. When I moved her arm yesterday, the plastic disintegrated, and her whole extremity came off in my hand. I also noted that most of my dolls with nylon hair looked a bit like Phyllis Diller. Apparently, being in an attic for 30 years gives you the worst case of bed head ever. The best treasure we found required no batteries at all. My teddy bear (Bear) and Snoopy emerged from a box, all of their fur loved off. Bear lost his felt tongue long ago and in its place was a red smile made of yarn lovingly stitched in place by my mother. Both of them have sutures in various locations all over their bodies where they wore thin. I have to thank my parents for keeping things for me and going through them with me yesterday. It brought back wonderful memories.
It's fascinating to take a look into the past. More people should. Either they don't because it brings back unpleasant memories and makes them uncomfortable or they are too busy living in the moment working to acquire the latest and greatest things, throwing the past away without a second thought. Maybe people update things so often to forget. I find that incredibly sad. I am lucky to have many more good memories than bad, and I realize that not everybody does. Of course, I suppose I'm pathologically nostalgic. I prefer my house and the things I own to have some ghosts in them. Will I keep every little memento I acquire and live in the past? No, but my heart breaks a little bit to give some of my old things away and discard chubby, broken-off doll appendages. I will forever hang onto some of the memorabilia from my childhood--not because any of my old things have any monetary value but because they remind me of who I am and how I got here. I adore shiny, new, fancy things, but I'm not afraid to appreciate what I have and take care of it for a lifetime. That's what my parents raised me to do.
Thanks, Mom and Dad.