When my Aunt Dulcie died 3 years ago (and who I cared for during her last few months) I felt that tangle of emotion that many of us feel in bereavement. A tussle between clearing out and hanging on, emotionally and materially. Dulcie was a child of the inter-war years, and whilst I wouldn’t say a hoarder, she certainly felt that everything that came into the home, however redundant it seemed to me, would at some stage have a use again. Moving her from her home of 50 years to a bungalow close by took its toll on both of us, for different reasons, and primarily because those possessions were so much more to her than that; they were part of her DNA, her life, her personal history and geography. She had a LOT of personal history and geography, having travelled widely and a full career as a teacher, and many, many hobbies and pastimes. Whilst I tried hard to accomodate her emotional attachment, I can’t change the laws of nature, and a quart into a pint pot won’t fit! Although we did eventually compromise on a level of decluttering and simplifying, the question of what to do with her belongings was no simpler for me after her death. Boxes of slides, that would never, realistically see the light of day again. Countless notebooks; she kept her household accounts in meticulous detail for all her adult life. I made this journal to celebrate her life (I didn’t plan it that way, it just sort of happened); using slides and prints from her youth, with background pages torn from her accounts and notebooks. I think she would appreciate the sentiment behind it. Those details from our lives making up something that will be passed on down the line. (I also salvaged numerous sewing patterns and maps, for use in craft projects!)
There is also a lot of ME in the journal. When I was making it I was reading a book called The Night Circus. Great read; anyway, a few pages fell out of the middle, which I thought I’d use in the journal; those are the little snippets of sentences you can see. One sentence jumped out at me ; ‘Esse quam Videri.’ The translation is, To be, rather than to seem. And that was Dulcie, perfectly.