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Stuff of Life: Bowling Trophies and Gadgets


My grandfather passed away three weeks ago. I'm 31 years old, and this is the first grandparent I've lost. I consider myself very lucky.

After the funeral, we gathered at the house to start going through his stuff. The voice behind the stories was gone but the stuff remained. The bowling trophies and golf equipment. The clocks and wind chimes. The crazy as-seen-on-tv gadgets. Pieces of a life well lived.

In the history field, we work with objects from the past all the time. Artifacts are categorized, labeled, assessed and conserved. Decisions about what to keep are based on a collections policy. But I didn't know how to translate my professional knowledge to this personal situation. It was overwhelming to see all of his things knowing he wasn't there.

We each handle death and grief in our own way. I chose to remember my grandpa by taking his bowling pin clock, the 1963 newspaper announcing Kennedy had been shot he had shoved in the rafters of the basement and the teddy bear I made for him when I was little. Each triggers memories of him so they remain out of sight for now. That's how I assigned value to his things – what reminds me of him the most? 

So, until I find a great spot for that bowling pin clock, here's to the memory of my grandfather, Kent Loofbourrow. Rest in peace, gramps.