Thursday, July 15, 2010

Ultrarunning...and Possessions


I still love my Umstead 100 Mile Endurance Run belt buckle. I wear it whenever I can, although in the summer it’s not quite as useful since I am not wearing jeans, and my shorts, depending on which pair, often call for another type of belt.

The buckle is silver, representing a sub-24 hour finish. It has enormous significance to me, as only I know what all went into earning it.

I remember cleaning out my mother’s personal effects after she passed, going carefully through her “treasures.” She was a frugal person and not given much to souvenirs or mementos, and so her collection of stuff was not particularly voluminous to go through.

I tried to be respectful and cognizant of why she had saved certain things until the end of her life, electing to keep particular items that would have meaning for her children (me and my brother), her grandchildren, and her great-grandchildren. Although she was born in 1925, her family “heirlooms” only started in 1945 with the end of World War II. See, my mother was German, and during the war, her home in Frankfurt had been bombed out, the family losing literally everything.

In fact, the night they were bombed out, my mother was wearing only pajamas. Usually her mother (my grandmother) had all 4 kids dress in their clothes overnight in case the British bombers came that night.  My grandfather was away on the Russian front.  But this particular night was overcast so my grandmother let the kids sleep in their pajamas, since she thought the bombers wouldn’t come.

But come they did. Somewhere up in the dark skies a British bombardier hit the switch, sending a bomb hurtling downwards into the city. Their apartment building was struck, and my mother’s family was buried alive in the basement bomb shelter under their collapsed building for 3 days until they were dug out.

That’s why I treasure what she did accumulate after the war, because she knew how ephemeral possessions are.

I wonder what will become of my Umstead buckle after I am gone.

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