Memories Found in Objects

“Water can drip through stone.” -Chinese proverb

This proverb reminds me that there are solutions in even seemingly impossible situations. For example, I recently witnessed a way to revive memories for those with dementia. I was visiting a senior home and saw different stations set up for the older adults. These were nooks with key items like a wedding dress, an old Singer sewing machine, and a typewriter to help them reminisce.

I wonder what object will elicit stories from my generation in the future. Will we have hallways decorated with computers and smartphones? Personally, for me, I think a watch could pull out my feelings.

watchEven as a child, I loved tracking the hands that danced around my father’s silver watch. Sometimes I tried it on my own wrist (way too big, of course), but it was a comforting and familiar object during my childhood. I became somewhat of a watch collector myself, primarily through accidents; I always managed to scratch the face, lose the band, or something else.

For a while, a watch was the only adornment I would wear. When I went engagement ring browsing, the shopkeeper couldn’t discern my tastes because she couldn’t find a single jewelry item on me! Nowadays, it’s hard to find someone sporting a watch. Most people look at their cell phones to check the time (myself included, although I still think it’s quicker to look at a wrist than rummage through a purse for a phone). I continue to have a fondness for watches, though. I currently have two, and I keep them around for sentimental reasons.

What objects hold strong memories for you?

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  1. I haven’t worn a watch in years and yet today I found myself checking my wrist as if my bare skin could tell me the time. Old habits die hard, huh?

    I think the objects that hold the strongest memories are long gone, but they include my first Barbie doll, my Dad’s manual typewriter that I used to teach myself how to type and a leather Snoopy bracelet.

  2. That’s so funny, I’m a watch girl too. Actually, I do wear one piece of jewellery, my always ring that Robert gave me. But that’s a plain, thin, gold band. I don’t have anything against wearing jewellery, just never remember to put something on. But the watches are becoming a problem because the older I get the more I depend on reading glasses and unfortunately that extends to some of my beautiful watches. Right now I can see the Swiss Army watch without glasses and that’s about it. And I’m not the type to wear huge, gaudy statement things, so I’m afraid the cell phone is relied on to the max. :(

    • jenniferjchow says

      I’m the same way with jewelry; I just never think to put anything on. Since I have a pile of costume stuff, though, I try to keep things in sight to remember to wear something before running out the door. I haven’t even thought about the reading glasses issue yet, but I’m probably on my way there.

  3. Jennifer, I used to ask my creative writing students to bring a significant object to class (nothing valuable, of course) and free-write about the object for a few minutes. Then they would swap objects with someone (this was the surprise!) and write about the other person’s object. It was a great way to help them understand fiction. As for my own significant objects–there are so many that trigger memories. I’ve written about some of them, but I realize, reading this, that I’ve barely scratched the surface. (I played with wearing my dad’s watch, too. I lost my mother’s, after she died.) Nice post.

    • jenniferjchow says

      Thanks for dropping by, Gerry. What a great writing exercise! I especially love the idea of swapping objects; that’s how we really nurture our creativity.

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