History for the Senses

During a recent visit at my Mom’s house, she showed me a shopping bag and let me know she intended for it to go home with me.  She quickly pulled out a few items in the bag.  With so many things going on over the holiday, neither of us had much time to talk or think about it at the time.  After returning home, unpacking and catching up on mail, etc.,  I reached into the bag.  One by one, I pulled out symbols of my family history.  To some, the items may seem senseless, but my senses were filled with the things inside.


As always, there were pictures.  One of the great things my mom thought to do was take pictures of houses.  There was a big stack of pictures of a house I grew up in.  I was excited to see them because they triggered so many happy memories made there.  I mentioned in another post that my Mom also took pictures of all of the places I have lived in my adult life – I am grateful for the memories those pictures bring to mind also.  Most of us take photos of people during special occasions and scenery when out and about or traveling, but we often don’t think to take pictures of ordinary days and common places. Especially with photos so easy to take now, I encourage everyone to take pictures of the outside of your home and each room inside.  In addition to banking fond memories, they are a great way to record your belongings for insurance purposes (keep a copy on a CD or flash drive in safe deposit box or give to a friend or relative to keep).

Another item in the bag was yet another invention of my grandfather’s.  He owned  a manufacturing company and worked with metal.  It is a stand/holder for a pie plate that he designed and created  with a well/gutter to catch any spillage from pies as they bake.   How cool is that?

A bag within the bag my mom gave me held a neatly folded dress.  Not just any dress.  A very old dress.  Somebody at some point in time, with love and longing in his or her heart, kept an item that belonged to someone dear.  The someone was my great-grandmother.  Her name was Elizabeth.  I don’t have a picture of her.   But she wore this.

Elizabeth Thomas' Dress front

The fabric is light in weight, gray in color and silky to the touch.  It is topped with a separate lace collar.  I’m certain it was beautiful on her.  The back has hook and eye clasps, but they are aged so I didn’t attempt to close it.

Elizabeth Thomas' Dress back

Here it is folded with the collar laying on top.

Elizabeth Thomas' Dress folded 2

I wonder what the dress was purchased for and how she felt when she wore it.  I wonder how she wore her hair with the dress and if she wore any jewelry with it.  Elizabeth and her dress are mostly a mystery, and so is the person who chose to keep this particular item and why.  But what I see and feel is a message of love in that dress.  Someone loved Elizabeth.

I neatly refolded the dress. It sits in an airtight bag with a note inside stating who it belonged to and a short lineage of how it is connected to Mom, to me and to my children.  When descendants come across the dress in years to follow, may they see, feel and know that they come from a long line of love.

The bag was a treasure.  Thanks, Mom.

About Climbing Downhill

Wife and mother of grown kids, in my 60's and dealing with MS, making life's moments count and trying to offer something of value to others along the way. https://climbingdownhill.wordpress.com
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2 Responses to History for the Senses

  1. Thank you for sharing a little bit of your history.
    Your idea to take a picture of your home & the rooms is novel–but I would have to clear up the mess around here first!

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