Things of Value
By Steve Goodier
You've heard the question asked, "If your home were on fire,
what you try to save?" Most people answer that they would rescue people and pets
and as many photographs and memories as possible. The question we faced was
similar. We were forced to consider, "If we have to evacuate our home, what
should we take with us?" Or, put another way, which of our possessions could we
Our area was just a few miles from largest wildfire in Colorado's history. We
were on "evacuation alert." If we got the call to evacuate, we would have to
grab whatever we could save and leave immediately.
We packed suitcases with a few clothes and toiletries and set them by the door.
Though these things were not valuable, time was. We moved the computers ... I
made a living with my computer. We cleared out books we sold from our home
office. Those books represented our livelihood. We packed financial records -
who wants to hassle with the government for years over missing documents?
Now, what else? We snatched family pictures from the walls and packed scrapbooks
in boxes. These were truly valuable and could not be replaced. I grabbed a few
sentimental objects from my childhood and stuffed them in a box.
Then we took a hard look at all that remained. There was a lamp that belonged to
my great grandmother. A piano my wife Bev learned to play when she was a little
girl. A hutch that belonged to her grandmother. A large rug we spent months
saving for and bought for our mountain home. Bedroom furniture we wanted to pass
down to our children someday. There were handmade quilts and gifts from dear
friends and family. It was impractical to move everything from our home and
store them for an indefinite time. Some important items would have to stay
I never thought that my "things" meant much to me. I prided myself in believing
that I would never let myself get attached to possessions, for things of the
spirit were all that truly mattered. But these particular "things" pulled
within. Those "worthless" coins and memorabilia from my childhood - what was
that about? The furniture we inherited or grew up with - why did it call out to
me so? Or that rug we bought together? Or the many items that decorated our
house given to us by friends and family over the years?
The answer, of course, is that these things represented our love as a couple and
a family. They also signified all of those people over the years we have loved
and who loved us. And each had stories to tell. They told of all we'd been
through together and where we were headed. They spoke in the voices of
generations past - parents and grandparents.
We could not take the piano, but we could visualize how Bev, as a baby, learned
to walk clutching the edge of that piano bench. We smelled the "old" and
pleasant scents of grandparents' homes as we heard the wind-up clock chime or
ran our fingers over a mahogany hutch we refinished years ago. We were flooded
with memories as we gazed upon items given to us by cherished friends over a
Some of these possessions of a life told stories about the people who first
owned them. Stories of how they faced hardship together, how they raised their
children and how they lived their lives. These "things" were not just things -
they were memories, no less valuable than the photographs. They told stories
about where we'd been, where we presently were and where we were going. They
told stories of friends, of family and of love.
Most of our memories would be left in the house if it burned - we'd never have
enough time to save the furnishings. And looking around at all we might lose, I
found it difficult to say good- bye. But strangely, I also felt fortunate that I
had been surrounded with objects that tell such warm and wonderful stories.
Valuable objects; perhaps not in the world's eyes, but valuable nevertheless.
The worth of all these things would never be measured on a ledger sheet. Though
they were possessions, they were still things of the heart.
Someone wisely said, "There are people so poor that the only thing they have is
money." And now I know. I am indeed rich. I am rich in friends and family. Rich
in memories. Rich in everything that has ever really mattered to me. I am
wealthier than I ever believed possible.
It took a fire to teach me.
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