Liz digs through children’s teeth, baby shoes, teacups and retro birthday cards and holds connections with each one.
Writing by Liz Zito (Mom)
Art by Katy Somerville (Daughter)
It Started With a Case of Cards
I simply cannot bear to give up anything that has even the most remote sentimentality. I think this has developed from two situations.
1 – My big sister left home when she married. I was around 12 years old and she gave me an old brown dented school case full of birthday cards; every one I had received since I was five years old. These treasured vintage cards became the basis for me continuing to keep every single card and letter I have received since.
2 – My mother didn’t keep any of the love letters my father sent her. Nor did she keep much of anything from her life in Italy or Australia. As I have journeyed through her life researching my family history, the snippets of items – her passport, teapot, cheap jewellery etc have become precious and it has prompted me to keep things – in case they are needed in the future.
There has been some culling over the years of my nostalgic items. But I still have some awesome and sometimes outrageous collections.
I have my daughter Katy’s baby shoes, a thick plait from her first major haircut, all her baby teeth ( I know – that one is weird), every theatre program from every show I have gone to, (and a box of programs someone else gave me that they had kept but I couldn’t bear to throw them out, tickets, badges, books (so many books), keys, postcards, tea cups, crockery (including someone else’s grandmother’s plates!), and oh so much more.
Since 2011, I have kept a yearly journal which I now put all the paper things, tickets, and cards into. It means that the storage boxes are smaller but the journals are thick.
Many say they are useless items of no value. But I am able to look through every birthday card, marvel at their vintage beauty and remember old friends and distant family. I can read letters from friends and remember things about my own life as the letters respond to news of my pregnancy, holidays, life situations and so on.
I touch my Katy’s handmade cards with their childish scrawl and fall in love with that child all over again.
I hold my mother’s passport which is now close to 90 years old, look at the photo and muse about the young woman who travelled to Australia to meet the man she had married by proxy, but never met in person..
I know they are “just” things, but for me, they are connections, memories, and beloved items. I am indebted to my big sister for that case of cards.
Note From Katy – my mum still has this terrifying doll . It doesn’t do much these days other than strike fear into the heart of…me. But I remember it was kept, in the original box, under mum’s bed, like a brightly coloured coffin for a horror movie star.
About the Author
Liz wishes she was a musician and an author. Instead, she can play a few bad chords on the guitar, bang some notes on a piano, sing a bit, and has an unfinished book she has been writing for 12 years.
Liz’s professional life has been primarily in the creative industry and has included theatre management, festivals and events, funding programs, and post-disaster creative recovery. Voluntarily, Liz enjoys directing and performing with community theatre and singing with her friends.
Liz is an avid family historian and has devoted much time recording details for future generations. Yes, that is the unfinished book.
About The Artist
Katy Somerville was beamed into existence on a Monday night in the mid-eighties by stars, glitter, and a glorious Italian woman from a long line of very strong women. In the present timeline, she likes to drink coffee, pat any animal that will engage with her, make collages, and spend time laughing and finding moments of joy wherever she can with her partner and her goofy, lanky dog.