Etymology: Middle English relik, from Anglo-French relike, from Medieval Latin reliquia, from Late Latin reliquiae, plural, remains of a martyr, from Latin, remains, from relinquere to leave behind
Date: 13th century
1 a : an object esteemed and venerated because of association with a saint or martyr
2 plural : remains, corpse
3 : a survivor or remnant left after decay, disintegration, or disappearance
4 : a trace of some past or outmoded practice, custom, or belief
The items in the picture above are some of my grandparents’ things. On our last visit to Germany, two years before my Oma passed away, I went through the drawers of my Opa’s old stuff, and claimed a few things that had meaning to me.
The dice were two of a dozen or so that lived in a leather dice cup in my grandparents’ kitchen cabinet. When I was a kid, we used to play Parcheesi over tea and cookies all the time, and I’ve tossed that particular pair of dice thousands of times. I remembered these two because they have a distinctive discoloration that set them apart from all the other ones in the cup, and I usually picked those to roll. The well-worn bottle opener was used to open every beer bottle ever consumed in my grandparents’ apartment for as long as I can recall. The ashtray was my Opa’s, who used it every day until he went to the hospital where he passed away. The wedding bands are my grandparents’, and my Oma wore them both after my Opa died in 1985. Before she passed away, she told my mother that she wanted me to have those rings, and my brother brought them over for me when he visited.
Anyway, those are a few things that have meaning to me, but are worthless to anyone else. They’re a physical connection to my grandparents, and a reminder of my family history.
I always envy people who have family stuff relevant to their current lives–the .22 their grandfather used to teach their father how to shoot, or the fountain pen their grandmother used to write her journal for forty years. Robin has a neat set of old notebooks filled with handwritten recipes by her Oma, written before she emigrated to the United States in the early 1920s. Opa and Oma didn’t own guns, and they weren’t writers, so these tokens are merely stuff that triggers some old childhood memories, rather than things I can use the way my grandparents used them.
Come to think of it, I do think I’ll let the kids use those dice once we start playing board games together in the kitchen over tea and cookies…