Friday, August 29, 2014

Objects that Mark Time

Photo by Tim Ellis. 
I'm often so consumed by my day-to-day tasks that I fail to note the passing of time. But there are moments that make me very aware.

Yes, clocks and calendars help me mark time.

But I also see a few objects around me that help me realize that time is leaving its mark on various objects--including me!

I experienced a keen awareness of time earlier this week when I visited my centenarian friend Gladys Bever, b. 1910.

Gladys & one of her mother's paintings
Her son Harold Bever had come to visit the same day. Harold carried with him a painting that his maternal grandmother had painted.

Glady's mother is Harriet "Hattie" Amy Leet Beilby Oakley. Here is a link to her grave marker.

Harriet was married twice, having been widowed when Ralph Wright Beilby (b. 1871) died in 1904.

Gladys is Harriet's child from her second marriage, which was to Amasa George Oakley (b. 1874, d. 1932).

Here is a link to the 1920 census record for Glady's family when she was 9 years old.

What struck me most that day was realizing that Glady's mother was born in 1873.

That was almost a century before I was born, yet I had the opportunity to talk with her daughter about life in California during the two prior centuries.
Photo of Mount Shasta by Amit Patel

Their family lived on a farm / orchard in Wheatland, California near Marysville. In the summers, they would go to an area called Shasta Retreat.

Harriet's painting depicts Mount Shasta. a volcano that is part of the Cascade Mountain Range in northern California.

Harold pointed out that some of the trees and flowers were not accurate to the flora of that area.  The trees were easier to paint as spruces; the flowers represent rhododendrons, which Harriet favored.  

Nevertheless, having the painting present helped trigger memories and organize them around Harriet's skills, her love for Mount Shasta, and the family's regular summer exertions there. Without the painting, it would be more difficult for Gladys and Harold to recall these details about Harriet's life.

It makes me wonder what objects I will bequeath to my children and what memories these objects might trigger?

What objects from your parents, grandparents and great grandparents help you mark time?

Related:

Talking with Older Adults, Serving as a Witness



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