“What did you do with the tin of beans that was at the back of the cupboard?”  Dad asked.  I had eaten them, heated them up and eaten them on a couple of slices of toast.  “You idiot, I was saving that up as a family heirloom!  It had been there for six years.”  The beans had tasted ok.  After that Dad collected and brought home lots of heirlooms – plastic toys from kinder eggs, ornamental gourds, ringtones, roadkill woollens – but none of them lasted.  They all became broken or lost or eaten or all of the above.  Eventually he found one that would last – a six year old boy named Oscar.  “Meet our new family heirloom.”  Oscar looked up at me with a confused look on his six year-old face.  I was unsure of his suitability as an heirloom, he was not really a thing to pass down through the generations, more a human life to be brought up.  “Hopefully he will stay in the family for many generations.”  Just like the other heirlooms, Oscar did not last long.  Within a few weeks his real family came to collect him and the search for a family heirloom went on.  Dad threw himself into the task with his usual cheer and we all wondered what he would bring home next.


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