It’s in the telling.
Family heirlooms are valuable because the family thinks they are valuable. The value is generally not measured in dollars and cents … the value is measured in feelings. In remembering. In hearing the story, and telling the story, and then hearing it again.
The family is a part of the story, you see, so the sense of belonging, of support, of family is created, enhanced, and increased through the story.
Most families do not have earthly riches, but all families can have family heirlooms that grow in value over the generations as the story is told. And re-told.
Here’s the story of our rocking chair.
Edna Mildred Lee Boring was born March 14, 1895 near Maitland, MO. She was the daughter of Norman Ernest Boring and Frances Emaline Miles Boring, and, importantly, the first granddaughter of Alban and Elizabeth Piles Boring. Six more grandchildren followed: Cecil (1897), an infant that died unnamed (1899), my Grandmother, Juanita (1900), Joe (1902), Lena (1907) and Lucy (1913).
Upon the occasion of their first Grandchild’s first Christmas (1895), Alban and Elizabeth Piles Boring bought a child’s rocking chair. That chair stayed in the grandparents’ home, and was used by all seven of their Grandchildren, including my Grandmother, Juanita Elizabeth Boring Mowry. Eight Great Grandchildren would have also used that chair. When Grandma Boring (my Great Great Grandmother) died in 1955, the family decided to sell her possessions to the family members in a private auction to pay her funeral expenses. It was a family affair, taking care of family business.
My father wanted to buy that child’s rocking chair – perhaps because he had a 3-year old daughter that would have been a perfect size for it. He paid what was to him a large sum of $10 to bring that chair home. It remained a part of our family home, used by both my sister and I, and was a continuing favorite of visiting pre-schoolers, as the rocking chair was just right for them.
When Velda and I moved to California and started our family, the chair soon followed. We took the chair to a photographer with our firstborn, Christopher, and captured this image in 1986:
This week, we took Christopher’s firstborn, the delightful Miss P, and captured her sitting in the chair, just as she does when she visits Grandma & Papa’s house.
The chair is now 121 years old. I’m sure it’s worth a dollar or two … probably more than the $10 that it cost in 1955. However, the value of the chair cannot be expressed in dollars and cents.
Still, it’s the most valuable piece of furniture I’ve ever owned.