The Stuff of Memories

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Ray Bradbury said, “Everyone must leave something behind when he dies. A child or a book or a painting or a house or a wall built or a pair of shoes made. Or a garden planted. Something your hand touched some way so your soul has somewhere to go when you die, and when people look at that tree or that flower you planted, you’re there.”

Seeing these unusual family portraits by Camila Cotrambone, I began to think about the objects that are tied to memories of my parents. My mother’s paisley address book – the writing looks like a carnival of ants tumbling across the page; her well-worn paintbrushes still stored in a favorite Hanukkah coffee mug I gave her years ago; my dad’s prayer shawl from his long ago temple days, tucked away in a burgundy velvet pouch; and a collection of his engineer’s slide rules, yellowed with age. There is such comfort and connection to be found in these ordinary talismans – along with the stories I tell, another way to hold my parents close.

What about you? Are there any possessions from a loved one that you hold dear?


  1. Elizabeth says:

    I have an embroidered bookmark that says ‘Budapest’ that my dad used for over 40 years in every book he read. I cherish it,

  2. Judith Henry says:

    Elizabeth, that’s lovely. What a great connection with him.

  3. LOri says:

    The piano my mother used to play with my dad accompanying her on guitar. It sits in my living room. An old clock that no longer works but that I remember her winding when she woke up in the morning. The anniversary band she wore every day that I now wear

  4. Judith Henry says:

    Lori, memories that evolve around music seem to be especially powerful. Love that you wear her anniversary band. I wear my mom’s ring at each book signing event that I do, to keep her close.

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