17 October 2014

Family Treasures: ..... it ain't just a rock !!!

This seemingly innocent little rock isn’t just any ordinary old rock. Sure, it doesn’t look like anything special but to me it holds a much deeper meaning than the fact it is just a rock.

As I child growing up I can recall seeing this rock holding open the front door at the Mataura home of my great uncle Bert (Herbert RENSHAW, my paternal grandmothers younger brother). The home had previously belonged to Bert's parents, my great grandparents Herbert and Bessie RENSHAW. After Bert died in 1986 this rock then moved to my grandparents home and it was at this point I actually started to wonder, … what on earth has Grandma kept that rock for !!!

But it turns out that this rock is special; perhaps not to anyone outside the family, but it is to our family. This is the very same rock that held open the front door at the home of Herbert and Bessie in Bothwellhaugh in Scotland. They were married in 1910 and not long after that Herbert found this rock while walking home from work in the nearby coal mines. I guess it may have appealed to him and he thought it ideal to hold the door open due to the fact it has a perfectly flat bottom which makes it sit so well on the floor. And for it’s actual size (140mm long) it is a pretty heavy rock.

Herbert and Bessie outside their NZ home
When Herbert and Bessie emigrated to New Zealand in 1926 the rock was obviously packed in with their belongings and came with them, to continue its job on the other side of the world. I guess in a way they brought a tiny piece of Scotland with them.

Over the years it appears as though it has had a few coats of paint. It is predominantly black now but showing through is various shades of brown and cream. The true colour of the rock is only evident on the bottom where it’s normal grey colour shows through. I will never re-paint it though, I will leave it the way it is as I think it’s unique colour allows it to tell some of the story of its past.

It’s role in my home today is a continuation of it’s role for the past 100 years. It sits in the doorway that goes from my dining room into the passage that leads to the bathroom, laundry and the back door. It sits right up against the doorframe to prevent the door from closing properly so that my beautiful birman cat Sophie can have access through to the laundry where her food and dirt box are located. 

Who knew that something so inconspicuous as a chunk of painted rock could hold such a special meaning. I only hope that in another 100 years time it will still be serving the same purpose in a home belonging to one of my descendants.

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