It’s My Life, Sort Of – A collector’s cards


By Joe Barkovich, Scribbler-at-large

I have a collection of cards accumulated from over the years. They are looked at occasionally, some more than others.

Not baseball or hockey or World Cup soccer cards. Not action figure cards. But cards that are reminders of the people who have been part of our lives or people whose lives have intertwined with ours.

They are the cards one picks up at a funeral residence as a keepsake of the person who has died. I had occasion to look at one last week: It was dated May 21, 1973, the date of my maternal grandmother’s passing.

Most are kept in a little box. A couple are from more than 50 years ago, friends of the family, people whose names I can recall but not so much their faces.

My grandmother’s brought back memories.

She made the best apple and cheese strudels on the block, maybe even the whole neighbourhood. The best homemade boiled beef or chicken soup, served for Sunday lunch. Jars and jars of peaches, pears and cherries, kept in her “cold cellar” over winters, always enough to last to the following spring, and then some. She could replace a wayward button on a shirt or jacket in the blink of an eye, even with arthritic fingers.

Each of these cards has the innate power to do this. I look at one for a work colleague and recall times I crept out of his car in the newspaper parking lot, white-knuckled after his harrowing drive back to work from a cross-town restaurant; I find inspiration and courage in the card of well-known local social justice advocate; peace of heart and words to live by rather than sorrow, in that of teenage girl who died much too soon. These are but a few examples. These are one of the reasons we keep such cards close to hand and heart.

My cards have a place of honor in their collection box. I know they will never have dollar sign-value attached to them as do the better-known cards like those of pro athletes. But in terms of sentimental worth and riches they will always be priceless in this collector’s eyes.

(A former reporter and editor, Joe Barkovich lives in his hometown of Welland, Ontario, Canada’s Rose City. It’s My Life, Sort Of appears Tuesdays on the blog but was delayed this week.)

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