I can remember from an early age, seeing my Dad take a cloth and lovingly clean off an old antique piece of glass. Polishing it with gusto and determination. An artifact from another time, a distant day, but a wonderful treasure, just the same, to my Dad.
He saw an old, dirty vase and looked right through the veil of dirt that clung to the surface, to see the glistening glass below, sparkling with beauty. An antique with a story to tell.
He would smile and say, "What would that have to tell you, if it only could?" He would often wonder at the item's past, who treasured it, or what happened to the owners of an item.
He did the same with people. He saw the true treasure beneath the surface, where few people even care to take the time to look.
He surely saw great potential in me, for reasons I have yet to understand, but even so, that potential, he saw.
He was my biggest cheer leader and a quiet inspiration to me. He tried his best to see others for the good in them first and foremost, and not the obvious flaws.
He loved a good flea market. Oh my goodness, did he ever !
He would whistle along, occasionally pick up an item and give it a rub with the palm of his hand. Brushing off the dust and grime. Seeing past that surface dirt, time after time.
We went to a giant flea down in Pickens County, South Carolina. He did love that flea. Something that he wanted on each and every table. It was a challenge to keep him moving, as the flea is over by the noon hour.
He would smile and chat about what ever he saw with just about every vendor there. He spied an old collection of antique pictures in a box on a table that was ran by a lady that stood close by. He looked at the pictures, old faded pictures of a wedding party , obvious from the Victorian era.
Beautiful old pictures that I would have given anything to have of my own ancestors..They caught my eye, too, and I looked alongside my Dad. He turned to me and said, "All these wonderful old pictures..wonder where the family is that these belong to?"
The lady running the table of goodies, stepped right up and told him, “They no want them, no more”.
She was of obvious Oriental descent and spoke stilted English at best, but her explanation was pretty concise.
So, my Dad looked up and said to me..”Imagine that, “they no want them no more”.
One totally incredible thought to both me, and my Dad. Simply incomprehensible to people that want to learn all they can about their ancestors, that you could simply discard your heritage like that.
We would glance, knowingly, at one another every time we encountered old displaced family pictures after that.
Always shaking our heads in disbelief that people are out there that would consider discarding family heirlooms. Heirlooms that wind up in a box, moldering on a flea market table somewhere.
Do not let this happen to you, I beg you!
Write the names and dates on the back of ALL your family pictures. Treasure them for the true treasures they are.
If future generations inherit a box of old musty pictures of unknown people, they may not want them anymore, either. Faces without names will not be remembered.
Keep your box of family treasures and instill the love of the past in your sons and daughters.
Designate yourself as the "keeper of the past" and preserve your treasured family history for the generations yet to come.