If you are like me, you had a childhood full of family. My mom is one of 5 and my dad was one of 7. My kids, at one time, had more great-grandparents alive, than grandparents, as both my dad and Al’s dad passed away when Sam was just little, and 3/4 of my grandparents lived until their 90s.

As a kid, my best friends were my cousins; we saw both sides of our family every weekend. Sunday afternoon was for catching up, meaning, the men had the hood of at least one car open mulling over the mechanics, and the women chatted over wine and snacks. The kids were dismissed, usually to the closest park. My grandmothers were always in the kitchen cooking for all of us. Somehow pans of baked macaroni, soup, pastizzi (Maltese stuffed pastry) and cold cuts with bread and olives magically appeared on the dining room table with all of the other munchies. Both my grandmothers were tireless warriors. They raised large families, opened their home to whomever needed a place to stay and always, always, had delicious home cooked food on the table – enough to feed an army.

My grandfathers had a different role. My memories of my maternal grandfather are faded as he passed away prematurely from lung cancer. What I remember is that he had an incredible sweet tooth and he had a secret stash of treats in the basement cupboard! He loved to tease us and have fun with his grandkids. My dad’s dad was very quiet and introspective. He never said much but his spirit was fulfilled by having his extended family nearby. He was happiest when we were all together. I ended up teaching at the school across the street from their house. I would go over at lunch and visit with them and inevitably, there was extra of grandma’s food to eat and the dish of peanuts was always full on the kitchen table. If that dish could talk, it would speak of the dish that had gone on for so many years.

After he had passed away and we were moving grandma to a nursing home, we were invited to go to the house to see if there was anything we wanted or needed. I took some bowls, a hutch, a rug and the peanut dish. The bowls, the hutch and the rug are gone, but this dish is so important to me. There are so many memories contained in it, it is more than a peanut dish.

“Things” do not mean much to me, for the most part. After losing Andrew, there were some “things” that became more important that we keep, like notes that he wrote to us, his favourite books and sweater, his soccer uniform. I even have his toothbrush in my travel bag so that a piece of him comes with me every time I travel. Weird, I know, but comforting none the less.

I don’t keep a lot but what I do keep is deeply meaningful to me. What “things” do you keep that belonged to lost loved ones?

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