Kerry Scott of Clue Wagon wrote a quick blog post about the one family heirloom she would save if her house was on fire. She then asked her readers what they would save if their house was on fire, their loved ones were out of the house, and they only had time to grab one thing – What would that one thing be and why?
If you had asked me this question in 2009, I would have easily told you that it would have been this big metal eagle that my Grandpa Max Doerflinger made. I’ve always felt a connection to my Grandpa Max, even though he passed away when I was only four months old. Mom often told me stories about Grandpa Max and it was clear that she loved him deeply. She even made sure that I was given the last name “Doerflinger” because she wanted me to have his name. The way she told the stories, the way her voice was filled with happy memories, and the way the look in her eyes changed that made me love the stories. She always said “Daddy always made each of his children feel like they were his favorite”. I wish I could remember him.
But since I can’t, all I have left to learn about who he was are the stories other people tell me and his artwork. I have many pieces of his metal art collection – stuff from when he was first learning and stuff from when he was a master at his craft. When I was little, the giant eagle used to terrify me – especially in the middle of the night. But as I became older, I began to appreciate the details on the eagle.
After my Mom passed away and I was left to plan a Celebration of Life, I quickly realized that I had very few photos of her. In fact, I didn’t really have more than a handful. I was full of grief and now full of guilt because I didn’t even have any proper pictures of her. I had plenty from her childhood, but I have very few from her adult years. Mom hated cameras and avoided them like they were the plague. When people would try to get photos of her, she would reply “You can’t take my picture! I’m wanted by the FBI and you wouldn’t want them to find me would you?”.
So my family set out on a mission to find pictures of my mom. And they found way more than I ever could have imagined. Then my cousin put all of the pictures into a beautiful album for me and gave it to me at my Mom’s Celebration of Life. It is beautiful and documents so much of her life. I look at the album whenever I feel lost or lonely or overwhelmed or when I think about something I’d love to tell her. Something that I know would make her laugh or say something quick witted or have her tease me.
So if my house was on fire, I’d grab that album and bolt for the door.