Preserving through use

My broken engagement glass preserved through new uses.

When I broke the fifth of my eight engagement wineglasses, I was cross for a moment. But it broke cleanly. The bowl might make a beautiful flower display. More, those glasses have been used, a lot. They’ve been part of my life for nearly twenty-five years. The crossness I felt dissipated in a minute. The joy I feel in their use is with me every day.

Nana had a wedding china and an everyday crockery. When her arthritis got too bad to handle the “everyday” the Denby Arabesque came to me. I, too, use it every day. Except when my sister-in-law is here because she doesn’t like the scrape of cutlery against the crockery. I don’t even remember what Nana’s wedding china looks like.

A flyer for Denby Arabesque (Nana’s everyday crockery) taken from Denby Pottery pinterest site.

As the family heritage keeper, I have spent a fortune on proper archive materials along side weeks of time scanning and labelling. I don’t regret a moment.  And yet I know that photos in a box may not survive much longer than I. Instead, I rely on stories & connections to preserve our family heritage.

I preserve through stories. One sister confessed that she was only really interested in those she knew but then loved learning about our great, great grandfather’s political leanings. Another sister said she’d felt better to know about a pioneering divorce in 1899 (longest story that I tell a lot and will get written….). In their own ways my sisters had told me that stories were the way forward to preserve what I knew. Then I learnt that a printed version of this blog was making its way around my Dad’s cousins and I discovered the truth in this.

I preserve through connections with those who are connected to the things I wish to preserve. I’ve sent photos and other documents to those for whom they have meant more (my favourite is the Kings – friends of my great grandparents, Mary Wellock & George Thomas Barrett) but I had no idea how beautiful this could be until I reached out to my Canada “cousins”. I had a preserved image of their life here and of how their descendants would be. Some has proved to be true, much hasn’t – even the surname Wellock sounds different. In mingling our histories we created a new shared narrative rather than preserved the old and it has ensured that knowledge of our shared ancestors is recounted in future.

The Wellock homestead has disappeared, but in its place a new memory of distant relatives meeting to be preserved for future.

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