Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Mementos - Deciding Which To Keep

     A yellowed and creased birth certificate, a first grade class picture showing signs of neglect.  Falling apart scrap books from teenage years, greeting cards from various love interests and"Spring Fling" photos. Half filled journals detailing the days of a young life.  A laminated engagement announcement, bridal shower favors, and a bride and groom cake topper all fill an old file box.
     Cigar boxes filled with plastic hospital name bracelets, new born photos, instructions for "taking baby home" and first haircut curly locks in an old envelope.
     Folders containing grade school artwork, A B C practices on wide lined papers,  report cards, progress reports, elementary school class pictures and cap and gown photos.
     An accumulation of fiftieth birthday cards, dusty, dried brittle roses from mother of the bride corsages and reminders of a life's sharp left turn take up their own private space.
    Atop of great aunt Marie's old gate leg table, sit photos of daughter and sons on their wedding day next to photos of a Cape May wedding day.
     "I love you Grandma & Pop-Pop" hand made items hang on the fridge and precious moments from sleepovers are captured on video.
     Boxes of memories handed down from fathers, mothers, and a sister now share a corner in a spare closet.
     Hard to part with broken jewelry, mom's mother's ring, dad's ruby stick pin and sister's expensive gold watch are found in an old green leatherette jewelry box.
     Max's collar and chain jingle each time the everything drawer is opened.
     Rarely used china and crystal are displayed in a mirrored breakfront.  Sterling silver pieces nestled in soft felt pockets are hidden away in a wooden box. A collection of menorahs sit atop a hallway shelf.
    Book cases house first edition literary books, cook books, history books, how to books, and what not to do books.
     Cardboard boxes are filled with magazines from every issue of Food & Wine ever printed to Consumer Reports from the past five years.   Files with tax returns from 1990 til now sit on a shelf in an overstuffed garage.
      I remember the days we helped my mom clean out the home she lived in for 34 years and then later the clean out of the little apartment that she lived in for 10 years.  I remember the days we spent cleaning out Ross' sister's apartment after she suddenly passed away.  I remember the many estate sales  and auctions we have attended over the years where people haggled over other people's memories. I sit with a diary of a woman I didn't know.

The question of the day is:
What is something you made a decision about?

     I have decided that I don't want to burden my children with the painful task of an estate clean out.  So little by little I have started to pare down and eliminate.
     I wonder, though, if a great great grandchild of mine might someday like to look at a picture of great great grandma in the powder blue dress that she wore to her spring fling.

I have created a page for Anna's Diary.  It can be found under the Tab titled Anna's Diary.
I have posted all of the entries to date there, starting with January 1, 1929.

Here is today's entry from Anna's diary:
Wed. March 20 1929
Kearny Club met here.  Elsie and Minnie came over also. Played Michigan [rummy, I assume?] Supper at 360.  On way stopped to inquire about Lena.  Louise quite upset about her.  Gland trouble Also stopped at Meg.


  1. Such hard decisions. I think about that sometimes when I'm throwing away some random semi-meaningful object--that the few random bits I have from my family before me mean so much to me now and they probably only narrowly missed being tossed as well. We can't save everything, though--unless we want to be the focus of an episode of Hoarders, which brings us back to the hard decisions.

  2. I promise I will save the "Spring Fling" photo.  As Gina said, the next generations will not know the fun of going through boxes of old photos. 

  3. I know what you mean about DH.  Ross is very sentimental and will probably never get rid of his (as he refers to them)shrine stuff.

  4. The decisions you had to make are tough ones.  Taking over the responsibility of making hard decisions for your grandparents must have been so difficult for you.  It's so true, there are choices we make each and every day.  I bet I would be surprised if I actually counted them up one day. 

  5. Cleaning out closets is very therapeutic.  It gives me a sense of calm, everything in order. 

  6. Please save the spring fling photo :-) Maybe one idea would be to go through these things now with your children present. What a lovely bonding experience it would be for us to see the items AND hear the stories that go with them. I think too often we find our own lives to be boring and inconsequential when in reality what we have lived and done and the memories we have created are very interesting. I, for one, would welcome a chance to reminisce with you through your mementos. Maybe that would also give a clearer idea for you of what is important to save and what is not. Love you, Mom!

  7. I cherish the photos that I have of long gone relatives.  My grandchildren and their children will most likely never know the fun of digging through boxes of old pictures because of digital cameras.  My siblings and I went through my sisters house after she died and it was up to us to divide, and do with what we would.  Now this may sound twisted, but I get comfort when I wear her old nightshirts.  When my parents moved away, they gave away or threw away a lot of stuff.  But at some point we will have to go through that stuff again.   I don't mind.  I like finding things and remembering.  I am sentimental.  I would give anything to have some memento that belonged to my sister Nora.  I do have gifts she gave me, and that will have to do.  

  8. Since I have no children, who will want my stuff.? I have pared clothes down to the minimum and have started getting rid of stuff we don't use, mainly in the kitchen. Memento's are only important to the one whose memory it belongs to. The photo's should be offered to those who might want them now.  Jewelry should be offered now. Now if only I could DH to get rid of stuff. 

  9. It's an interesting question.......what is something I have made a decision about? I've actually had to make several big decisions within the last five or six years alone, such as gently suggesting (forcing?) my grandfather have a partial hip replacement surgery after he broke his falling off a chair or signing paperwork that put my grandmother in a nursing home when grandpa was unable to properly care for her (and it wound up being a permanent placement) or my decision to sell my condo (which is my most recent big decision) or closing my grandparents' store or.........

    I could go on and on about those decisions. They make me sad to think about, much less talk about.

    Of course, there are the decisions I make every day: whether to let Little Man cry himself back to sleep, whether to empty the dishwasher or let it wait until tomorrow, if I'm going to read blogs first or go to Ravelry.........they seem mundane but they are the decisions that keep life going.

  10. Interesting question:  what is something I have made a decision about?  I make a decision every work day to go to work.  Even though it is a genuine decision, it feels a bit coerced.  
    Let me think about this a bit - could be its own post......
    I hear you on the mementos  - I am already keenly aware of not wanting to make things tough on my children but I do also want them to have things they might treasure.
    and I like getting rid of stuff - I plan to do some of that today - there is something very satisfying about cleaning out closets....