May 16, 2018
It just makes me wonder! Himself's grandfather was a devoted and dedicated stamp collector.His father and grandfather were classic Victorian and Edwardian collectors that belonged to clubs and societies that traveled intensively and by the time Himself's grandfather passed away, back in nineteen fifty eight, this generations collection was becoming famous. Many offers poured in to buy it, however, Grandfather D. left it to his eldest male grandchild. It was held by a bank until my oldest brother-in-law had his twenty-fifth birthday and he flew to the city and met with the law firm that handled the grandfather's estate.
Several times during visits in my brother-in-law's home, we have joined him in hours of pouring over this extensive, careful, and massive collection. It was very much on obsession with these previous gentlemen and very professional. It is heavily insured and still intact, It has never been broken apart to sell of some of the priceless and heavily coveted collections which we are so grateful. Of course, dear, trustworthy oldest brother-in-law woukd never ever sell any of it. After the debacle of Mum's estate, where even the old old Sterling Silver was sold so fast after the youngest daughter laid her spray tanned, bony hands upon it, he has discussed with us his plans. He still has not decided completely yet and when we get to look at it, I hope it stays in the family forever.
Now, as part of being Grandparents that love and live from a distance, Granpa and I have written regularly since they were tiny. Baby Boy I or BostonGirl or their amazing nanny, read aloud the letters. Each always contains little gifts and somehow, over the years, the girls began saving the fancy stamps on the cards, letters, boxes and big mailing envelopes.
Now they are going on six years old and their passion/obsession for stamps is becoming famous amongst their family and friends. Traveling family and friends take time to mail the girls stamps from the exotic places they travel, from Central and South America to China and Ireland and Canada and Iceland and from the Unitres States Post Office Collections. The new Wonder Woman series were a huge hit with the girls and we sent then each a whole sheet.
The girls refuse to use any stamps sent to them and our son told us last night, they carefully arrange them as carefully as any Victorian era collector..they have even learned the "fancy" name for stamp collectors and sound it out carefully to tell everyone that's what they are.
We made our usual stop to our friendly Post Office recently to mail off the latest collection for the girls and now, they know us as the grandparents of the Little Stamp Collector Ladies.
In the process of cleaning out some closets, I found stamps from our boys' childhood, we had friends in South America and the Middle East and Switzerland then that had sent the boys stamps from their countries and travels, and so off they went to our granddaughters. Right now, their twin obsessions are stamps from "every country in the whole world" to any stamps that just look amazing or awesome or are foreign and really really old ones!
In two huge War World Two trunks, I keep every single card and letter I have ever received and a collection of old family letters from just after the Civil War. Since the girls are wide-eyed at receiving stamps from long time ago (2000, 1990, and, OH! 1970) , I have pulled out stacks of letters from back to Workd War II. Of course these stamps are stamped, used, not true collector's quality but they are very well preserved and awesome to look at.
I cannot help but think of the hands that touched these stamps, the places they were purchased and the living history in each. After talking with their parents, we are going to arrange them after carefully removing some of the best, in a special folder for their birthday in fall.
Early this morning I received a text from one of the Canadian nieces and a whole slew of Chinese stamps are on their way to our granddaughters, the 'Little First Cousins, once removed" with another following from family friends in Russia and India.
There appears to be such a strong in-born fascination with history, with the world, with a deep interest in observing, studying, collecting and as little ButterBean said to me on FaceTime, " saving" special and everyday good things, taking care of them so, " They don't get lost and people forget."
Words from two small big-eyed girls not even six years old. Watching their bright and lovely faces as they chattered about a zillion things, I thought of the few portraits I have seen of any of the Fathers of my husband's family and how compared to mine, so little really known. The grandfather that handed down the family stamp collection, born in 1867, was a tall, slender elegant man with patrician features. Always well-dressed and groomed. An engineer that worked on railroads and for RailRoad Engineering firms, marrying late to a much younger lady, convent-raised.
He only knew his first three grandchildren. I found out by my own extensive research and contacting family members descended from his siblings, that he and his wife had had twin sons, little boys, one living to about two months, the other struggling on a few weeks more, until he too so sadly, passed away. These lost twin baby boys were never ever mentioned or discussed. I am still searching for where they are buried, and now, so much more insight into the life-long lingering sadness and depression Himself's grandmother suffered so much from all her life.
These two people are part of our grandchildren too. Never even alive, long dead, by the time they were born. I can go back home and going from one place to the other, go visit each and everyone of my grandparents', great-grandparents', on down to about seven generations. If I jump back in the car, I can find even older family graveyards but, I knew my great-grandfathers, they were real live people that we spent time with, visited their houses, went for ice cream with, walked fields with them went to horse and cattle auctions with them picking us up and holding our hands. I still remember vividly a pale pink sun dress I wore at ten years old to go to Keeneland with my father, grandfather and great-grandfathers.
And back around my thoughts go. Unseen and mysterious, still their DNA and influence, their legacy, so to speak, live on and in many ways, come alive again.