Among My Souvenirs

Sometimes I feel in a very reflective, nostalgic mood. It’s probably related to my age. Today is one of those days when I’ve been trying to do filing in my study, and instead of doing it in a concentrated, orderly way, I’ve been reading old correspondence and looking at old photographs which I mean to put in an album but probably will never get round to it.

I never set out to be a collector. Whenever Ive read about millionaires with fabulous private collections of

art and sculpture, Ive thought why not just keep a few pieces you really love and give the rest on loan to a

museum or gallery so that others can share their beauty.

Yet I find now that I do have collections. Theyre not worth any money and probably no-one else would want

them. Most people in my age group have accumulated possessions they cant bear to part with, despite moving

homes and maybe even countries several times in their lives.

Who remembers that song of yesteryear: Among My Souvenirs? Part of the lyrics were:

Some letters tied with blue,

A photograph or two,

I find a rose from you

Among my souvenirs.

What we are really collecting are memories. There are times in our lives we want to hold on to forever and

when we handle these mementoes, they bring a smile to our lips, a tear to our eyes and a bittersweet

wave of nostalgia.

I have more than a thousand books, and nowhere to put them all. Those that overflow my bookshelves ar

stowed in cardboard cartons. Many are paperbacks, yellowed pages and tattered covers. But to throw them

out would be like disposing of dear friends. Lots of poetry some by almost-forgotten writers like Alice

Duer Miller, Rupert Brooke, A. E.Housman, Dorothy Parker. Old novels by Somerset Maugham, Evelyn

Waugh, Hemingway, Steinbeck. . Books on philosophy, psychology, the craft of writing. They all represent

my youth, when I discovered the world and the wonders it contained. No, I cant throw them away!

Then there are the photos. They started out in albums, but now there are too many and Im too lazy. Beloved

family no longer with us . Friends of my youth. Weddings. Babies bright-eyed and dimpled. Rites of passage

first day at kindergarten and school; graduations. Grandchildren. Holidays. They are all cherished, and

overflow in drawers and cabinets.

Bric a brac. One earring (the other lost) given by my first boyfriend. Small childrens awkward drawings.

Their clumsy efforts at making you strange things from wood or papier mache. . A letter on a torn page that

proclaims in shaky letters: , I love you. How could you ever toss those?

And now I also have a collection of shells and rocks. Most were gifts from grandchildren who wanted to give

me something in return for the toys I gave them. There is a pine cone and a curiously-shaped rock. Shells you

can put to your ear and hear the sea. And stones I gathered at the Dead Sea on my sisters last visit here, when

we spent a perfect day of peace and tranquility together, exchanging memories of our parents and siblings,

our childhood, the dreams we realized and the ones we lost along the way. All precious. All irreplaceable.

Get rid of the clutter were told. Not me. I shall go on collecting mementoes and memories until I die.

And I hope my children, even then, will save a few of them. Because some things are worth more than money!



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