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Collecting diecast model cars helps me cope with grief..and with life!

Who’d have thought it – these tiny representations of vehicles both actual and imaginary that grace our highways and byways could have such meaning in our lives. My collection is not just an assembly of model cars and toys from my childhood – it is much more than that! They are vehicles in more than one sense of the word, providing a means of escapism, and imaginary flight. They are a means to forget, as well as a means to remember.

We started collecting toys when I was seven. Over the years the interest grew and so did the collection! We visited new places and met new friends along the way.

Collecting meant that every holiday, every day out, every journey away from home provide Dad and me with an excuse to indulge in our hobby. As a result, I spent more time with my Dad than anyone else I knew. How lucky was I?

Mine and Dads passion for all things toy related gradually got a hold of mum also – not deliberately, but by the fact that she accompanied us on all our collecting jaunts and was involved in so many diecast related conversations meant that she knew more than the average collector.

Dad had suffered from a severe form of arthritis since he was seventeen. He was constantly in severe pain. Every joint in his body was affected. We always knew that one day he would not be able to walk, and that day came in 2012.

I had to balance work life with my personal life and I became a carer for my Dad. Being a carer is the hardest job in the world, especially when it involves a loved one.

The scales of time tipped heavily towards my caring duties. Getting the work life balance became harder and it affected our lives in ways I never imagined; personally; physically; emotionally and psychologically.

Caring for a loved one can take you to peaks of happiness and contentment and down to the depths of despair.

Through all this, one thing kept me and Dad ‘sane’ – diecast model cars! Seems weird looking back but who would think it? During our lowest times, the thing that kept us going the most was our collection.

We would talk about the days we got a bargain; where it came from; the shop or swap meet; remember the feelings we experienced when we saw that certain model; the reactions on our faces; recall what was said and by whom – all things for just that split second would take us away from our present situation.

The advent of the internet opened a whole new collecting world for Dad and me. Being in a wheelchair meant it got hard for Dad to get out and about like he used to, but this new-fangled technology meant that we could go to a swap meet, fair or sale everyday ‘virtually’, and keep in touch with what was happening in the diecast and collectible world. It was yet another way to take our mind off things. When Dad was down I’d get the laptop out – bidding at auctions online brought that collecting buzz into our home again which had been missing during some days of Dads illness.

On Monday 2nd November 2015, our lives changed forever. Mum suffered from a haemorrhagic stroke. We were told it was so bad that mum wouldn’t make it to the end of the day. But she did. Ten weeks later she returned home and began her recovery. She couldn’t walk, talk, or use her right arm, but her spirit was still there. She suffered her second haemorrhagic stroke in March 2016 and spent another 11 weeks in hospital. This time though, we couldn’t bring her home. In May 2016, mum was admitted to a nursing care home.

While all this was happening, Dads health deteriorated, and various infections meant he was admitted to hospital on three separate occasions. He reached a stage where he needed more care than we could provide, and as a result was admitted to the same care home as mum. Another infection got the better of him and as a result dad passed away on the 25th of November 2016.

Collecting diecast has helped to cope with my grief enormously. Our family collection has been in storage for quite a time. Getting parts of it out and sorting it was extremely hard for the few months after Mum and Dad passed away – I couldn’t look at it as my grief was so raw.

Handling certain toys just brought floods of tears. I remember where we bought certain things and reflect on the times I shared with them both, but this time it was different. Instead of joy like it used to be while Dad was alive, all I could get from them was dark feelings of sadness, loss and yearnings for times that had gone.

I did realise however that one thing need to be done – and that was to come to terms with the fact that the collection had to be downsized considerably. We had way too many things!

Downsize??? How could I do this though? Surely. I would be letting my Dad down, as he’d striven more than anyone to assemble such a vast array of Dinkys, Corgi and Matchbox etc – no, I couldn’t do it!

I couldn’t do it for a long time. Eventually, the day came when I realised that no matter if I let some of models and toys go, I would still be in possession of my memories!

The collection now is changing direction. Yes, I still collect some of the things Dad used to love – for instance, Dad loved Matchbox MOY – for years he used to aggravate me with his obsession of variations, but now I see things differently and appreciate them in a new light.

I’m also venturing into new areas – areas I think that Dad and I overlooked. I’m obsessed with Hot Wheels, and I can’t get enough of early European manufacturers such as Mebetoys, Politoys, CIJ and Solido. I’m also seeing 1/18th in a new light!

Mum and Dad have left me a legacy – not just in monetary value – more than that. A legacy that helps me get through my grief. I will never get over losing them, but it is made easier by the fact that these little toys and models fill me with love and pride, together with memories of happy times surrounded by people who loved me as much as I loved them! is dedicated to my Dad!

If you’ve experienced similar feelings please leave a reply in the box at the bottom of the page. We’d love to hear from you!

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