Aug 31, 2023

Objects evoke memories of old

Holding the object and gazing at it can transport us back to the moment it became special and held in high esteem. [Source: Shutterstock]

We all collect treasured keepsakes that are special throughout our lives – it may be an heirloom handed down from generation to generation or something with significant sentimental meaning. It may be a personal or shared item that connects family or friends. Either way, it will remain a meaningful part of one’s life journey. 

Holding the object and gazing at it can transport us back to the moment it became special and held in high esteem. It can signify sad memories of the person connected to it who has passed away or give way to joy and happiness of the gratitude, love, and kindness it represents.

Attachment is defined as a “personal connection or feeling of kinship”.

For example, jewellery has always had significant importance in emotional attachment – an engagement ring, wedding ring or charm bracelet. My mother adored her lucky charm bracelet, a gift from her husband on her wedding day and held great sentimental value. On their anniversary, my father would add another charm each year until the bracelet was full. Each charm signified a special occasion, the birth of a child, an anniversary or simply the symbol of love between my parents.

I recall a lady I cared for called *Rosemary who had a wide range of jewellery which she kept in a beautifully gilded gold box that played a tune by Strauss, “Blue Danube”. Often, she would take items out of the box and describe the moment she received the ring, bracelet, or necklace in great detail. The expression on her face was one of glowing pride and adornment to the memory the piece of jewellery held for her. For Rosemary, the touch and recall gave her a sense of warmth and love, recapturing the moment. 

Rosemary once said, “When I look at my jewellery, it gives me so much pleasure I am back in the moment”. Closing her eyes with a gentle smile listening to the melodic tones of the Blue Danube would turn back the clock of time into the arms of her beloved husband, gliding around the dance floor to endless waltzes until early next morning. Rosemary’s treasured possessions were her way of recapturing her most precious memories, which gave way to her feelings of pleasure.

As a child, I was fascinated with snow globes. Every year, my birthday presented me with another to add to my collection. I remember the first globe I received and the captivation of watching the snow gently falling inside the glass covering the reindeer and snowman below when shaken. That initial interest extended to my love of snow and winter sports, which led to my appreciation of skiing. On my first school skiing trip to Switzerland, I bought a magnificent snow globe that played the tune of “Edelweiss”.

Another lady, *Evie, I cared for was born in Austria, married an English soldier and lived in England until he passed away, then moved to Australia to be close to her son and family. 

Her room was full of what we used to call “Mini-Austria”, with countless wooden chalet-type music boxes on her dressing table; Evie’s favourite music box played the “Clair de Lune” tune.

Everywhere was a display of decorative figurines, ballet ornaments, and glass trinkets, all immaculately cared for without a speck of dust on any item. In pride of place was a beautifully engraved wooden cuckoo clock, which not only sang out the time upon the hour but had a garden scene with a locomotive steam train and figures in a garden of flowers. The clock had hung in her parents’ home for seventy years and had played a significant role in Evie’s life. 

Evie would recall the happy times as a child with her siblings and parents all sitting around an open fire eating homemade strudel – life was so simple and uncomplicated. Evie would experience various moods, ranging from great joy to melancholy emotions about the clock and her homeland. As she would say, “A time lost, but never forgotten revisited only in my mind and heart”.

I could relate to Evie when she spoke about the reassurance the sound of a ticking clock gave her; the constant backward and forward motion of the pendulum and the ever-present ticking represented safety, home, and family. Surrounded by her earliest memories, she recalled her homeland, which gave her a sense of where she came from and who she had become. 

Memories are the brain’s way of reading data stored away, only to be retrieved when a triggered emotion awakes the senses. Objects that evoke emotions and sentimentality associated with a particular person can hold a warm feeling inside and provide endless pleasure.

*All names are fictitious to protect the privacy of those mentioned.

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