Memories live on

By Ashleigh Fielding | posted on June 20, 2019

PEOPLE holding onto keepsakes of passed loved ones are encouraged to share the memories and stories associated with them as part of a Dying to Know Day exhibit at the Albany Public Library.

Dying to Know Day is an annual event that aims to reduce the stigma around conversations about death, dying and bereavement.

For this year’s event, Albany Death Cafe members Kate Thomas and Irene Montefiore are helping to construct a Memory Wall to encourage people to talk about their deceased loved ones and share memories of them.

Interested Memory Wall participants have until the end of June to submit a photo of an item they have inherited from a passed loved one and a written account of the story behind the item.

Ms Thomas is contributing a photo of a ring she was given by her mother.

“When I had my first child, I took my wedding and engagement rings off, and I managed to lose them somehow,” she said.

“So, my mother gave me her engagement ring.

“I always wondered why my mother didn’t wear a wedding ring or didn’t have any wedding photos, and she told me they were lost in a fire or something like that, but when she was dying, she finally told me that she never actually married my dad – my dad had been married before and they never got married.”

Ms Thomas hopes it is a story she can pass on along with the ring to her children or grandchildren, to keep the memory of her mother alive.

Ms Montefiore also has a special ring and a teacup and saucer, belonging to her late grandmother.

She understands how discussing passed loved ones can be cathartic and therapeutic.

“If the story isn’t told, the story is lost,” Ms Montefiore said.

Ms Montefiore was gifted a ring she was told was her grandmother’s friendship ring, which she wore before she was married.

It was later revealed her grandmother wore the ring to hide the fact she gave birth to a child out of wedlock.

“I remember asking why my Uncle Sydney was named Sydney and my grandmother said, ‘he’s named after his father’,” Ms Montefiore said.

“I remember I got confused because my grandfather’s name was Tom.

“It would have been quite scandalous back then, 100 years ago.”

Ms Montefiore’s inherited tea cup and saucer also has ties to her Uncle Sydney.

“He bought it back for my grandmother from the far east during World War Two,” she said.

“He got it through the whole war without a chip; he refused to drink tea out of anything else because he said the china made the tea taste better.”

Ms Thomas and Ms Montefiore are encouraging others to come forward with photos of special items and the stories behind them and take part in the Memory Wall.

They agreed the Memory Wall would help create a social history as well as help demystify the thought that it’s best to not talk about the deceased.

Photos and short descriptions must be emailed to d2kalbany@gmail.com before June 30.

Those unable to, or are unsure of emailing, are encouraged to call either Ms Thomas on 0428 991 653 or Ms Montefiore on 0419 561 470.

The Memory Wall will be displayed at the Albany Public Library on August 10.