Making DREAMS of the DEAD allowed us to engage with our own personal mythology around Baka’s house and the objects in it.  We invite you to share an object or place that transports you to the past – to someone or something that you have lost.  What are you holding on to? What have you let go of?

My father’s bombing raids

Patricia Gruben, Vancouver

After a house fire a few years ago I thought I’d lost the one thing I’d inherited from my father, a tiny notebook that recorded the bombing raids he flew as a navigator in WWII. This notebook inspired a film I made in 1994 about the myths we create about our families and the places they come from. Last year, sorting through old photos as my mother was moving to a new care home, I found the original version of the list on the back pages of an old address book. My father bombed Genoa, Vienna, Bucharest, Munich, Avignon, San Tropez — places he only ever saw from far above.

Posted: 1,April 2019

my mother’s coral necklace

Branka, Zagreb, Croatia

My mother had a beautiful ten strand coral necklace. Only sometimes I could borrow it for special occasions. After she passed away my sister and I shared it, now we have five strands each.

Posted: 30,March 2019

Dining Room Chair

Geoff Inverarity, Vancouver

The characters are hard to read on this tiny label my Mother wrote and put under the seat of a dining room chair: the date 30 years ago she reupholstered the seat, a New Year’s resolution completed, perhaps. The chairs were made for her father almost a century ago, and she cherished them in her time. They have seen thousands of meals, they’ve been used by four generations, and they’ve travelled the world, from blitz-torn London to post-war Edinburgh, and now to Vancouver in a new century. She’s left me a reminder: it’s time to reupholster the chairs again. My Mother’s long gone, but her work remains; she is still the ghost in the machine of household tasks, those small renewals and re-orderings that sustain us, leave us free for the vast and dirty business of living.

Posted: 24,March 2019
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My Grandfather’s cigarette case

Nikos Theodosakis, Crete, Greece

I met my grandfather Nikos Theodosakis in the summer of 1972, I was 9, and in Crete with my parents. He was in his mid 80’s and spent most of the day sitting on a chair in the courtyard in front of his house, which used to be a small cafe during the war. Leaning against his house, surveying the passing pedestrians and cars, he had one hand on his cane and the other holding this cigarette case, turning it, fidgeting with it and occasionally opening it up and lighting up a hand-rolled cigarette. I spoke no Greek, he spoke no English but I remember just standing next to my namesake, fascinated by him as we exchanged animated futile conversations with only our hands. When I hold this case in my hand, I imagine the decades he did the same, and somehow there’s a comfort in that connection.

Posted: 21,March 2019

Precious Platter

Anonymous, Vancouver

One of our closest friends gave us this platter as a wedding gift. The colors and design remind us of her so much. She was an intelligent, warm, and gifted person, but she suffered from depression and eventually took her own life. We continue to use the platter on special occasions. I worry that we’ll break it, but we can’t bring ourselves to just let it sit on a shelf.

Posted: 6,February 2019

“Heirloom” Bottles

Franco, Vancouver

When my mom died, we cleaned out the house. She’d kept anything that could possibly be of use – jars full of twist ties, bags full of bags, plus things that had no use, like a few old lottery tickets my dad had bought. He never won anything. I kept two bottles of homemade wine, at least 30 years old. We finally opened them when we were moving from our own house.  The wine looked golden and beautiful, but tasted like vinegar. I kept the empty bottles, even moving them across the country. I finally brought them in for recycling the other day. I will put the money towards a lottery ticket.

Posted: 6,February 2019

Companion Piece

Marlene, Vancouver

My grandmother had a row of figurines on the valance board in her living room. As a child, they felt like companions watching over me as I read, or drew, or daydreamed.  My grandmother had more precious objects in her dining room cabinet, but these were colourful and alive, full of personality.  I found out, as an adult, that most of the figurines were bought as impromptu gifts for my grandmother by mom, when she was a young woman working downtown. I can imagine my grandmother’s delight when her newly grown-up daughter would come home from work on the streetcar, bearing a new inhabitant for the living room.

Posted: 23,January 2019

Mourning Suit

Marlene, Vancouver

Our meeting was random – we were assigned a shared office at UBC – but we became close friends immediately.

She gave me so many things during our seventeen years of friendship — the most important ones were of the heart and mind.    But she was also an extravagantly generous gift-giver, and six weeks before her death, she bought me a beautiful black velvet suit by Cacharel.  She told me that everyone should have something beautiful they can wear on a moment’s notice.

It was mid-winter when she took her life.

I did wear the suit to her memorial.   I suspect this was her intention, and a final gesture of caring for me, but I will never know.  Her legacy to all of us is a beauty of spirit that exceeds the exquisitely chosen presents she loved to bestow.

Posted: 24,November 2018
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