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Here Comes Treble: What a Quandary!

...Of course, apart from photographic and written treasures, many items take up space in hidden corners of our home that are seemingly useless, but with which I’m emotionally unready to part. Most of these precious items have no value to others. Once I ‘shuffle off this mortal coil’, most of my ‘treasures’ will probably end in second-hand shops or on that dreaded rubbish dump...

Isabel Bradley squares up to the task of preserving the words she has written and the photographs which provide information and insights into her way of life.

To read more of Isabel's sparkling columns please click on http://www.openwriting.com/archives/here_comes_treble/

Flames crackled as the old lady fed page after page of lovingly-written memories into the fire. How she must have resented the hours Granddad spent writing his diaries. Each Sunday evening at the kitchen table, he became immersed in his memories, while his family sat chatting around him. When he died, Grandma vented her jealousy and grief on diary after diary, covering nearly thirty years.

It was fifty years after that ceremonial burning, that I learnt of the fate of those memoirs. I was researching a novel based on Granddad’s experiences in the First World War. “Grandma burnt them all!” I was horrified on discovering the sacriledge. “How could she? I needed those diaries…”

I recounted these events to Jill during tea-break. She responded, “A friend of our family wrote diaries all her life. She made her daughter promise to burn the diaries when she died, but when the time came, the daughter couldn’t bring herself to keep her promise. She kept the diaries without reading them, then left them for her daughter to make the decision.” She hastened to add, “Maybe her great-granddaughter will read them, fascinated to learn how different her great-grandmother’s life was a century ago.”

Our conversation began when I mentioned that I’m in the process of scanning the family photographs onto the computer, to be recorded on discs for future generations. An accumulation of my life of photographs together with my father’s and historical pictures from both sides of the family, caused cupboard shelves to collapse with a muted crash. I ignored this disaster as long as possible. Eventually, with great reluctance, I opened the cupboard and removed the offending albums and files, only to discover they had collapsed onto more files containing my writing, going back to high school days. Not only must I face the daunting photographic project, I’ll have to sort through my writings to decide which may be appreciated by “posterity”.

Once this mammoth task is complete, the question will arise, ‘What should I do with the physical photographs and originals of my stories, articles and books? Should they be burnt, thrown onto a rubbish dump somewhere?’ I can’t bear the thought of them rotting in a dump somewhere, or being gloated over by tramps. What a quandary!

Of course, apart from photographic and written treasures, many items take up space in hidden corners of our home that are seemingly useless, but with which I’m emotionally unready to part. Most of these precious items have no value to others. Once I ‘shuffle off this mortal coil’, most of my ‘treasures’ will probably end in second-hand shops or on that dreaded rubbish dump.

Will future generations browse in those shops or dig through the dumps and discover something they will treasure, something from which they can draw information and insight about my way of life? Would they want to? Will they read my diaries with interest or shock, will they gloat over the pictures?

Ultimately, those who come after us will either honour our wishes or go against them, and we will not be there to know or care what becomes of our personal treasures.

All we can hope for is that those we leave behind keep us alive in their hearts.


By Isabel Bradley © Copyright Reserved


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