Thursday, March 08, 2007

iconic memories

There's something very nostalgic about a navy blue, wool cardigan. Isn't there? Nostalgic because of the visual memories it evokes. Grandfather, card table, golf on t.v., scotch on the rocks.

My grandfather died last week and what remains are his objects that he left behind: a closet-full of clothes, shoes, golf clubs, a silver watch on his desk, three tuxedo buttons from Tiffany's, a library of Margaret Atwood novels and books on world religions, a stack of worn playing cards. These leftover, quotidian objects are in essence an iconic representation of the real man when the real man has gone away. I treat them as such anyhow.

Icons are symbolic in a way—as humans, we use them for reassurance. I guess that's why so many icons are related to the after-life. Why people carry a rosary or pray to the crucifix. Or send flowers. Or fly the flag at half-mast. These icons are sacred and comforting. When I miss a person, say, my boyfriend, I wear his clothing. It makes me closer.

Today, I wore my grandfather's navy blue cardigan. It was way too big and I'm sure it didn't bring him any closer to being alive. But wearing it did bring me closer to the man that once was. It conjured other images and icons. It honed the wonderful memories. It comforted me.

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