What to cherish?

November 26, 2017

Uncle Ed has taken possession of a new home in Johnson City, Tenn., in an assisted living facility center. Last week we visited his home because Ed wanted to make sure we knew about the items which were important to him.

He held up a churn dash. "My dad made this when the family moved to Beckley, W.Va., to the farm."

His eyes light up as he explains the implement in his hand. "This was used to churn the warm milk to produce our milk and butter which Nana used to make homemade bread. I did most of the churning."

He points to a cast-iron upside-down shoe. "This is called a shoe last. It belonged to Granddaddy Hurt. He used the stand to hold the shoe so he could resole it. There were three different sizes which could be added to the top.

"Do you see that lamp? We used it at night to study and read. We called that lamp the "dollar bill" because it was large and expensive to buy the kerosene. I was only 5 years old, and it was my job to walk two and a half miles to Harper Road to get the kerosene."

I promise my uncle that we will keep these treasures in the family, and that I will record their significance.

There is a rolltop desk which goes back four generations. Uncle Ed disassembled it in West Virginia and hauled it to Tennessee where he reassembled it, and even made new dowel rods to fit.

When my mother died, there were six of us to empty out the contents of her condominium. When I got home and opened up my trunk, I realized that everything I took out of the house was blue and white like her Blue Willow china. In my novel, "Find Me Alone," I refer to her now as my blue and white mother.

When Ed retired, he became a master of hand creating all things with wood. We have stockpiled tray tables, Christmas ornaments, salt and pepper shakers, pens, his trivet which he designed, ice cream scoops, and wine stoppers in the foyer.

My son wants to take furniture, but he and his wife do not have room in their home. I suggest he rent a storage unit for one year to buy time to decide. Once you let the heirloom go, you may regret it.

Making decisions about what to keep is often easier than deciding what to let go. Helping a relative through this traumatic time is the finest gift I can offer a man who is still mourning the loss of his wife.

This holiday, I am thankful for my readers, especially Abigail, Kathleen, Brian and Eva for their heartfelt responses to my Nov. 10 column, "Just for today - words to live by." Enjoy the holidays, everyone!