“ … things possess the power of recall, of recollection … things are memoirs of the existences that once were theirs … “ Norman Lock
“Don’t let them take it off me,” my husband said, pointing at his wedding ring. He meant when he died. And I didn’t, he was buried wearing it as he wished. It was his to take with him on his journey to the Summerland.
But what about all those other precious things he’d worn and used every day – his watch, his glasses, the love stones I gave him that he always carried around in his pockets, his Montblanc pen? I wanted to keep them all but I didn’t know what to do with them. I didn’t want to tuck them away in a drawer and forget they were there.
If I’d known about Memorial Boxes at the time I’m sure I would have bought one. As it was, I found a tin that used to have notelets in it and used that. The lid was also a picture frame so I put a favourite photo of L. in it, taken on a wonderfully happy day in Winchester.
Some time later I came across these words by W S Merwin and put them under L.’s pic:
“Your absence has gone through me
Like a thread through a needle
Everything I do is stiched with its colour”
I keep the tin on a bookshelf next to my desk. It brings me enormous comfort.
At some point I discovered that Memorial Boxes were actually a thing. I think they originated in the US. Does anybody know? I had started Sisters by then and I really liked the idea of adding a Remembrance Box to our list. My sister thought it was rather a mawkish idea but I knew how much L.’s meant to me and I was sure many other people would feel the same.
Obviously I couldn’t show photographs of other people’s, as examples on the website or social media because that was private, too personal, so I decided to make one for my mum and use that.
As you can see, I used a studio portrait for the exterior, one she’d had taken when she was first married, and inside the lid I painted the silhouette of a ballerina because she had trained in ballet and had a career as a dancer and an actress as a young woman. I painted the interior her favourite shade of green. I keep some of the postcards she drew for me, in there, her Equity card, some small pieces of jewellery, all sorts of things that remind me of her.
I always feel very honoured and privileged to create Remembrance Boxes. People have such wonderful stories to tell about their loved ones and I strive to capture something of their essence in the design.
Whoever first came up with the idea, whenever it was, gave us all a lovely way to hold on to our memories and keep those mementos safe.