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Tony Grist

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Dear Aunt Joan [Jan. 31st, 2014|09:55 am]
Tony Grist
I came across a little suitcase yesterday when I was poking about in the loft. It contains memorabilia of my great aunt Joan- the youngest of my grandmother's sisters. She and my father- there was only ten years between them-  had a kind of big sister-little brother relationship. She married Laurie, a merchant seaman who was dying of TB whom she met- I think- when she was doing war work in a hospital. After his death she lived with her sister Kathleen who was very deaf and maybe a little simple. She was a good egg- and as little like the Wodehouseian idea of great aunt as you can imagine. I think she worked as a company secretary or something of the sort. Her photo collection stretches from the teens of the last century through to the '90s- with a few Victorian cartes de visite thrown in. Oh look, here's my great, great grandmother!  Mixed in with Bridges family stuff are images of war ships and pagodas and Japanese prisoners of war and jolly jack tars having a laugh which must have belonged to Laurie.  He's here, of course, a rangy, sandy-looking chap- and.another good egg by the look of him. There's a fragment of wartime diary- a few months in 1941- which seems to have been kept by Laurie and Joan together; I need to read it. We have Joan's baptism certificate and confirmation certificate, a sad little collection of leather-bound devotional books- and a birthday book with quotations from Longfellow; Joan has filled it in haphazardly; My kids are in it but I'm not. And that's about it. A whole life- two whole lives- and they fit inside a suitcase.  

From: artkouros
2014-01-31 02:47 pm (UTC)
That's quite a treasure. I hope you preserve it some way.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2014-01-31 06:50 pm (UTC)
Yes, I aim to pass it on to the next generation as I received it.
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[User Picture]From: pondhopper
2014-01-31 03:04 pm (UTC)
That's the kind of treasure I wish I had.
But yes, when one is gone one's life fits neatly in a very small space.
Right now I am remembering when we cleaned out my mother-in-law's room at the nursing home where she lived after she died. A few bags, clothes to be donated, lots of pictures and her whole life was packed up.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2014-01-31 06:55 pm (UTC)
Earlier generations didn't even leave pictures behind.
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[User Picture]From: veronikos
2014-01-31 07:19 pm (UTC)
>> A whole life-two whole lives-and they fit inside a suitcase.

The partial memorabilia of two whole lives fit in a suitcase. "A whole life" is a different thing altogether and, indeed, a much vaster thing, even if incorporeal to the five senses.

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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2014-01-31 07:47 pm (UTC)
Yes, I agree with that. The real life is something else- and ongoing...
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[User Picture]From: porsupah
2014-02-01 10:34 pm (UTC)
As much of that as you might feel comfortable with making public, I'm sure would be gratefully received.

(How much is lost, so soon.. I only first saw a fabulous shot of Dad, as a pre-teen, after his funeral. Almost cocky, quite dapper, circa 1940)

And yet, so little survives of him, in audio or video. I regret that sorely. Ironic, somehow, given his passion was the pub we (okay, they =:) ran, where I came into the world; a local hub of friends, a real place to socialise, eat, drink, and dance. And even wager - he once won the pasty business off the best folks capable of the art, but refused. They're still making the best pasties you'll ever know. ^_^

Edited at 2014-02-01 10:35 pm (UTC)
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2014-02-02 09:02 am (UTC)
I'm planning to scan some o the family photos- and when I do I expect I'll be putting examples online.
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