Today I drug a big box of my mother’s keepsakes out of the closet and sat down with that to finally sort through it all and decide what to do with it. After a few hours of making piles to pass on to either my son or the grandchildren and reading old newspapers, funeral notices and letters and both laughing and crying over photos most of it went back in the box to try again tomorrow. It’s possible that the kids will find some of this stuff interesting and want to keep it for a while, but it is more likely that my memories will leave this world when I do with only the rare exception.
I just can’t toss it all out yet. My mom kept her grandmother’s hair, carefully labeled and wrapped in tissue paper for more than seventy years. It feels like a betrayal not to keep that, but what exactly do I do with it? I don’t really want to display it or even pull it out to look at now and then, but I stuck it back in the box for later anyway. My younger sister’s ponytail is there in a box that once held a necklace. My sister does not want it and neither does anyone else. The kids think all this dead hair is creepy. Maybe it is creepy. Okay, I can toss that.
There are newspapers with engagement and wedding announcements, my dad’s successes, including a record high bowling score as well as his letters to the editor defending labor unions and all the grandparents and great grandparents obituaries and even local birthday celebrations and high school sports events. Maybe I will keep those around to browse over when I am even older than I am now.
I found letters and telegrams my parents wrote each other when dad was away in the army and lots of birthday, anniversary and Valentines cards that my siblings and I gave our parents. There are even letters exchanged by my grandparents. Sitting on the floor reading these felt a little like sitting with them again and hearing family stories. There is a package of report cards from my when my mother attended a Catholic school for girls in 1935 along with letters from her friends and teachers there. Mom’s report cards from the academy and back at our hometown public school were average. But my father and grandparents were mostly A students and my great aunts seemed to be top of their class, one even acquiring a Masters Degree in music. It’s nice to think there are some good genes in the background.
I am getting a bit of a kick out of all this junk. Maybe I will indulge this nostalgia for a while until I tire of it. And then, maybe, just stuff that box in a closed or under a bed for someone else to decide what to do with when I am either dead or too demented to bother. It seems I have a plan.