One old black paper embossed suitcase was filled with thin tissue missives - "v-mail" ( v for victory) from the early 1940's - letters from my parents to each other during World War II when he was a navy pilot and fighting overseas. They wrote to each other at least once, sometimes twice a day. Letters filled with love and longing - his, surprisingly, expressing his fear that he would never come back to his young wife and baby daughter, and hers full of funny little tales from home to cheer him up. The first two I read made my heart ache so I quit reading and closed the suitcase for someone else to deal with in another half century.
Another suitcase was overflowing with crocheted knick-knacks that certainly must have had a use a one point in time. There were lots of embroidered pillowcases and table runners, and a special little box with handmade baby clothes. They were mine. I'm sure my sister wore them, too. There was no time to make clothes for her since we were too busy after the war too do anything but celebrate and catch up with living.
There were lots of photographs. Photographs of intermediate family and kissing cousins - and one special old tin type of a very stern looking matriarch in stiff and starchy clothes, with a firm and disapproving face and tightly done up hair. I have no idea who she was, but someone loved her because that very unflattering picture was set in a velvet frame with a lovely little door that opened and closed with a sliver clasp.
And that started me thinking - the next person to go through this closet - because I know I'm not throwing anything away - won't find any pictures of me, or my husband, or my adult children. All our pictures are in the little electronic bellies of smartphones and ipads. They're out there somewhere on a "cloud" not in a old musty closet. More's the pity.
It will be a sad day when there are no more packets of love letters tied with velvet ribbons, or old dance cards with names circle in red and embellished with hearts. Now we send electronic texts and smiley faces to express our love. And it's not for the first time that I think we're moving so fast our souls are falling off the wagon. We may be hurtling into a new age but what we are losing is precious.