My uncle saved one important piece of wood from my grandparents’ house after they were gone. He kept one vertical piece of trim from inside of the doorway in one of the upstairs closets.
That board is valuable because it is the repository of a lot of family history. It is covered with horizontal pen and pencil marks, and handwritten labels from about two feet to about six foot two that represent the heights of various family members over time. On it you can find different measurements for: “1,” (my dad’s elder brother) “2,” my dad, and “3,” the uncle in question. I can trace my own growth there as well, along with my brother, sister, and all of my first cousins. And we have moved on to another generation; now my daughter and her cousins are represented up to their current heights.
We had a Pearlman family reunion a couple of weeks ago. It was great to see everyone. It was also fun to have a chance to parade everyone – children, parents and grandparents – over to the board for the brief ceremony of making a new mark.
There is something wonderful about the simple act of taking these measurements, feeling the collective memory of three generations of kids with their back to the same board, year after year, all stretching to maximize their height.
And I don’t even have to mention that, so far, I’m the tallest.