A friend recently spoke about an ancestor of hers, who had helped Emperor Nicholas 11, the last Russian Tsar and his family for a period of time and in gratitude, they bestowed upon him, a beautiful chest covered with rich, red leather.
The leather has deteriorated over time and the only reason my friend can tell that it was once red, is due to the flow on matching interior leather that is fortunately in better condition. She is now the keeper of the chest and it is used as a receptacle for the family’s memorabilia over the decades.
There are numerous items in it, including simple but narrative type poems of daily life and life through wartime, written by one of her forebears.
A relative recently spoke about the disappearance of letters and artefacts belonging to a member of the family who had died in WW1. A tragic and irreplaceable loss!
Perhaps the precious items would never have vanished if a designated family chest had been set aside with a stipulation that it be passed down from generation to generation with a nominated next-generation family member. The member would be a ‘keeper of the flame,’ and would pass the torch on to the next family member.
Another brilliant idea that I myself have adopted, is a, ‘Me,’ file. Michael Josephson, renowned attorney and ethicist, writes about a time when he received an email from a teenager who expressed his thanks for many of Josephson’s sage comments as they continued to influence his life.
Josephson was surprised when a friend who trained home-care nurses, suggested he save the email and any other positive and encouraging memos, notes and letters and place them all in a file entitled, ‘Me.’ Her nursing trainees often worked on their own and rarely received any sort of feedback, and a file such as this, she told them, would help boost their morale whenever they felt discouraged, unacknowledged or ‘questioned the value of their work.’
Reading them privately would help them to recall times of minor or major accomplishments, special incidents, personal achievements and appreciative feedback and would also remind them of the reason they followed their calling. Noticing their initial reluctance, the trainer quickly assured the nurses that the collection was not an ego boosting or bragging exercise and the nurses soon found comfort and encouragement from their personal ‘Me’ files.
I bought a beautiful A4 size box with a magnetic clasp and have placed in it letters, notes, cards and even my own handwritten texts of unexpected but significant, verbal praise I’ve received from acquaintances, strangers and friends. I have my box on my lap now and have just glanced at my file for the first time and have to admit, they are encouraging and do lift my spirit.
© Wendy Robinson 2014
Instruction does much, but encouragement everything. ~Johann Wolfgang von Goethe