“What a pity that I didn’t keep my childhood – it would be very valuable now.”
— Ashleigh Brilliant
One year ago today, I wrote about the April birthday shared by my father and my brother. I had forgotten that my father’s father, who died when I was a baby, had almost had the same birthday. I re-discovered this fact as I was rummaging through my father’s baby book which was kept lovingly by his mother, so long ago that it’s now officially an antique! I am grateful she saved these bits from the past, and they somehow survived so that I can enjoy them today.
In contemporary culture, we struggle with having too many things. Almost all of us need to throw away, give away or otherwise part with a great deal of what we have. But save a few tokens of the past for future generations to enjoy. Someday, they will be very valuable to people who are probably not even born yet. I never knew my paternal grandfather, but a part of him lives on in his letters and photographs. As an actor in a traveling theatre troupe, he was away from home when my father was born, but penned this letter to him that has now been read by many descendents he never met.
By the way: as it happens, Ashleigh (the author of this quote) did save a good bit of his childhood, in the form of detailed journals he kept from boyhood on, which he has laboriously transcribed verbatim to digital files, and shared online with his friends and fans. Reading through them gives a fascinating picture of what everyday life was like in wartime England. Ashleigh’s reflections on the headlines we studied decades later in history class provide us with a boy’s viewpoint on difficult circumstances, under which life nonetheless went on. But it’s the everyday details I find most interesting, the things that never made it into the history books.
I hope you will keep at least a little of your childhood in the tangible symbols that your children and grandchildren and great-grandchildren can enjoy long after you have left this earth.
One year ago today: