What’s Your Story?

Childhood Toys | Hansen-Spear Funeral Home - Quincy, Illinois


The holiday season brings families and friends together where they often share stories and memories. One memory leads to another and pretty soon those memories long stored and forgotten may surface.

Music and the smells of food can stir the memory as well, and these moments as one gets older may bring warm fuzzy feelings along with a little sadness because the actual events are long gone.

We all have history. After serving and helping families for 40 years, I so appreciate the stories and memories that define individuals in the eyes of their loved ones.

Jeff and I have spent our lives together as a couple encouraging families to share memories and those stories that describe a loved one with friends visiting. It’s a way of sharing one’s love for that person, and studies on grief show that telling “the stories” helps diminish the grief.

Many times families find items, letters, papers, childhood toys, etc. that were important to the deceased. We have had the distinct honor of helping families display, describe and honor the whole memory of loved ones with these items and more.

A loved one dies and we grieve. We miss those whom we have lost and the ability to show them our love now. We often hear stories about them that we had never heard before. We are sharing some of our stories now.

This Christmas I displayed two personal toys from our childhood. They are old and worn and not the usual Christmas decorations one would find in someone’s home. They have history. They are part of our history, and the fact that we still have them tells you they are important to us.

I’ll briefly share their stories with the intention of encouraging you to do the same. Share your early stories with friends and family now while you are alive. Laugh and love in the telling. Otherwise, these significant priceless old toys will be just old toys when you die. The story that belongs to each one connects them to each of us. We are more than the present person at the present age. These stories are the kind of stories we hear at the funeral home from families, and the telling of the stories helps a family in grief.

Yes, our childhood was a long time ago, and many things have happened since then, but the fact that a little old tiger and a little old doggy are still with us says they have significance in our lives. They will not necessarily be saved after we die, but the stories that they represent will live on.

Jeff’s puppy “Mighty Mouse” is from his toddler years. He believes he rubbed on it while sucking his thumb as he was a thumb sucker. I honestly thought it was a rabbit because one ear is unraveled and long like a bunny rabbit’ s ear. There are tiny patches of worn fur and it and has a crunchy stuffing now. The one front paw has a hard little ball in it which is why Jeff named it “Mighty Mouse”. Mighty Mouse the cartoon character had a hard and strong fist! The innocence of childhood and the love for a toy puppy gives him a connection to the little boy his parents loved so much. They did save Mighty Mouse for him, after all!

Theresa and Tiger | Hansen-Spear Funeral Home - Quincy, IllinoisI was a young grade school girl who loved animals: domestic animals, wild animals shown on TV and in zoos and stuffed animals. I asked for a tiger for Christmas and my poor parents knew I really expected to get a live tiger for a present. I ended up with a special present under the tree that year which dad bought and wrapped. This was not an ordinary occurrence at Christmas because dad did not shop for the presents. We all knew mom shopped for the presents given to us from them. Santa covered the other presents. It was a sure fire way to divert my attention and probable disappointment. This little tiger was adorable with a bell in its tail.

Keep in mind, I’m one of six kids so my parents had their hands full making every child feel special. They told me we couldn’t have a tiger at our house, and….. when I grew up I could ask my husband for one! It worked, and that little tiger has stayed with me all these years. I still love tigers even though I don’t have a live one, and I especially love my parents for thinking through that dilemma so lovingly. I was a brat!

That’s a tiny part of our stories, and each part contributes to the whole. Stories build on stories, memories build on memories.

Embrace your own story and share the many tiny parts with others now so they can laugh and cry with you!

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