If my house were on fire, then here are the things that I would grab as long as I knew all people and animals were safe:
1) My family photographs. I am calling that one item, though there are hundreds of photos. This reminds me to put them in one box that could be easily grabbed. I would be sick if I lost the photos that chronicle the life Ray and I have shared with our children over these past three decades. I need to get those photos gathered up and in one place.
2) My grandmother’s Bradley and Hubbard lamp with its stained glass shade. This one object exemplifies the sum total of my mother’s family for me because it is well crafted from fine materials, has clean lines and produces a soothing soft green and red glow. I saw this lamp in my grandmother’s home when I travelled with my family to Bastrop, Texas to visit her as well as my aunts, uncles and cousins. I have many happy memories of those times together. Also, this lamp is one of the first antiques that I noticed and loved on sight, which set into motion my later passion for buying and selling antiques and collectibles.
3) My journals. Again, there are many of these, but I am calling them one item. I need to get all of these in a box as well because they chronicle details of every part of my life from early teens up until I shifted from journals to my computer five years ago. These are like the photos, a chronicle of my life, and I would be very sad not to have them to pore over when I am old and have time to relive those small moments that have added such happiness. Yes, another item to get boxed up, just in case.
4) The contents of our lockbox, which includes important documents plus a few pieces of my jewelry. I don’t wear a lot of jewelry, but I do have several pieces that matter to me because they were gifts from my childhood best friend, Patricia, as well as my father, mother and Ray.
5) Only one more thing? Oh, dear. Of course, this would need to be my purse since it contains my phone, charger, and credit cards. That isn’t very interesting, but I would be hard pressed to live without it, particularly if I found myself standing outside my home watching it burn to the ground.
While I have never gone through a devastating event like a house fire, I can only imagine the anguish that comes from watching all your earthly possessions going up in flames. However, what I realized from compiling this list is how few objects I own that are true “essentials,” and, of course, even those are not so important that I couldn’t live without them. That is not to say I wouldn’t grieve over the loss since I know without question that I would. There is something so comforting about being surrounded by beloved objects collected over a lifetime, and there is also the trauma of losing everything without warning. I hope I never have to experience this and my heart goes out to the people who have.
So just to err on the side of prudence, I plan to gather up what matters most to me and put it all in one spot for a quick grab. You never know when or how life might change, particularly when you live in earthquake country like I do.
I hope you’ll consider doing the same. A few special objects could make a huge difference in easing the pain of loss should disaster present itself, and the truth is that none of us is immune.
Now where are those boxes?