It was in the middle of a well overdue spring clean for her ageing mother that Narelle came across the shoebox. Nestled in between an old suitcase and a bundle of old clothes, it was tucked up in the back of the wardrobe, gathering dust. Moving the rapidly filling garbage bags out of the way, she crouched down and with careful hands brushed the worst of the dust from the top of the yellowing cardboard lid uncovering the words “Charles 1944” written in an elegant script in the top right hand corner.
Her brow furrowed in consternation as she edged the lid away from the box, curious to see what treasures it held within. The musty smell of old photos wafted through the air as she opened the box and her eyes lit up as she realised the extent of what she had found.
Quickly she rose and taking the box and lid carefully in two hands, moved out of the wardrobe to settle herself comfortably on the bed. With the sunlight streaming through the window she eagerly lifted the photos out of the box, pausing quickly to scan each one. A bundle of letters was tied up with faded red ribbon and nestled at the bottom of the shoebox, almost indistinguishable from the flurry of newspaper clippings and photos, was a black velvet pouch. Covered with dust and smelling of decay, she carefully opened the brittle fabric and uncovered three gleaming war medals. Tucked into the pocket was a certificate and letters addressed to “Charles”, her grandfather’s name which was rarely spoken by the family anymore as they knew so little about him. With growing excitement she realised the shoebox contained her grandfather’s letters, photos and mementos. A scattered, incomplete collection to be sure, but as far as she and the rest of the family knew, it was the most information any of them had about Charles and his brief, heroic life.
At that moment her frail mother walked into the room, cup of tea in hand to see how the compulsory spring clean was progressing.
“Mum, did you know about this?” demanded her daughter. “I thought we didn’t know anything about Grandad, but look at this – it’s fantastic! I can’t wait to show the kids”
“Oh! Where was that? I thought that box was lost in the house fire in the 70’s!” exclaimed her mother excitedly, spilling tea in her haste to see the misshapen treasure chest.
“How absolutely wonderful!” she murmured, gazing at the box tenderly, “I remember my mother sitting on her bed, going through this box every evening. She loved Dad so dearly, and missed him so much and I think it made her feel better to re-read his letters and see his medals.”
“Mum, let’s do something special with these memories. Let’s create something that the whole family can benefit from and enjoy. And most importantly, let’s preserve Grandad’s memory and life so that we know that he is never forgotten.”
“That sounds wonderful!” her mother replied with a smile, “but how?”
“To be honest, I don’t know exactly, but I know where to go to find out!” she said triumphantly.
“Art Land Indooroopilly” she said. “The specialist design team there can work with us and our special shoebox of memories and create something unique that we can hang on the wall. And, we can probably scan all of the images so that all the family can have copies as well. And,” she added thinking quickly, “that way if any more accidents or fires occur, we can make sure we have a back-up so that Grandad’s memory is protected.
I know that Art Land prints on canvas as well printing photo reproductions of all sizes. Let’s take the shoebox there tomorrow and this Father’s Day we can have a truly monumental tribute to your father and my Grandad……the wonderful Charles”
And they did.