Clearing out the loft turned out to be both a bigger and more emotional task than Jack could have imagined. He passed down box after box of chipped crockery, forgotten linen and battered toasters to his father on the landing below, and a whiff of nostalgia came with the cobwebs and mothballs.
The two men laid the boxes out in the garage to decide where the contents should go. Salvation Army or tip. It became increasingly difficult, each item awakening a memory. A wooden Maori bookmark, a Saudi gold plate, a miniature storage box of his sister’s that played a clockwork chime of “The Godfather” theme when the bottom drawer was opened. Jack had a compulsion to reseal the boxes and return them all to the loft, to remain with the family in eternia.
He wiped the dust of a brown leather diary, opening it’s crusted pages to reveal a dried flower collection. Each page held a flattened rose, or tulip, even a dandelion. Beside each was a handwritten male name. William, the Bluebell. Tony, the Narcissus. The book was full.
“What’s this?” Jack asked.
“Your grandmother collected flowers,” his father replied. “She was a pretty woman. A lot of suitors came knocking with a bouquet when Dad was at war. She turned them all down, but kept the flowers.”
Jack closed the book, but spent a long time deliberating into which home it should reside. Eventually, he decided on a third one, and began reboxing treasures for his own.