I moved recently, and part of that move entailed pulling everything out of the storage locker I rented two years ago when I downsized from a large 5-bedroom house to a one-bedroom apartment. I had let go of a lot of “stuff” when I sold the house, but I’m one of “those” mums who hangs on to all sorts of memorabilia from my children’s youth, and every picture my young grandson ever drew for me. I had also been ‘the last stop’ for my dementing mother so I had in my possession all sorts of family history from both her and my father’s past.
Which is why I’m changing the way I live my life now.
As I cleared out one load of boxes only to watch another load arrive, I realized that I had forgotten how much “stuff” was in that storage locker.
I found boxes of reference books my mother had collected: everything from “The Encyclopedia of Space” to “Mysteries of The Past” to the “Illustrated Reverse Dictionary”. I found china and linens and steamer trunks my mother had brought with her in 1946 when she became a war bride. I found generations of photographs of both my mother’s and my father’s families that I never knew existed until after my father had died and my mother’s dementia prevented her from identifying anyone. To be honest, it’s quite a burden to be the holder of history when you know the history book is still being written.
I come from a generation (and perhaps you do too) where some things were too good to use on a daily basis; where small children should not be trusted with nice things; where ‘on display’ was the most use too many things received.
It’s All Stopping Now
Appreciate me or disapprove of me, all that is stopping now.
After Mum died, I polled my extended family to find out who wanted what. History was left in my possession so I scanned every photograph I had that I could identify and created copies of a CD for every member of every generation alive at that time. I think that’s duty enough.
On a go-forward basis, I decree:
- the books are all lined up on the lower shelves of one of my bookcases where the grandchildren can peruse them as they choose. Yes, I will encourage care and respect of books, but I will not have a bird if a page gets ripped or a picture has fingerprints on it.
- the linens will go into use – I deserve the good stuff as does my family!
- I am going to sort through photographs and if the faces are not clear, they are going to be disposed of. All the rest are going to be sorted by my parentage, with written instructions that if I have not gotten to the pertinent parts of the world where distant relatives might be able to identify some of the faces, they are to be disposed of because I’m confident that younger generations won’t have a clue who they are.
- The trunks are going into use, and one of them will even get a spruce-up and a paint job. No idle sitting about from here on in!
Do I Need to Plead In My Own Defence?
In my own defence:
- most of the information in the books is out-dated now but if anything triggers an interest or a curiosity in my grandchildren, the book has served its purpose
- many of the linens are hand-needlepointed or crocheted but I don’t have a clue who did the handiwork
- my dining room wall is lined with old family photographs of everyone I can identify – and I am probably the one person in my extended family who can identify faces as I spent extended periods of time with my parent’s families when I was younger.
- one trunk is a lovely old steamer trunk that I have already cleaned up and put into use but the other one is an eye-sore and weighs a ton so a facelift will ensure it gets both a home and some use.
How about You?
Now I’m curious about you. Are you the keeper of the family history? Do you hang onto memorabilia? How does it qualify as memorabilia? Does age automatically suggest value?
Let me know below.