My brother, Mike, and I have agreed there’s something about going through Mom’s boxes that we hadn’t fully bargained for: Going down Mom’s memory lane includes going down our own memory lanes. This can be heartwarming, and great fun…and also embarrassing, sad, and exhausting. It feels like my life is flashing before my eyes in excruciatingly slow motion.
Trip down memory lane
So many family holidays! Christmas, Easter, birthdays, weddings, graduations… the usual.
So many trips! Camping trips, cross-country road trips, train trips, genealogy research trips, trips to visit my grandparents in Albuquerque…and the time I got to take my mom to Paris, just us.
So many concerts, plays, and art exhibits! Both attending and participating. Both mom and us kids. Piano recitals, Art in the Park, craft shows, musical productions, church choirs, bands and orchestras. Not to mention the music store where several of us worked at one time or another.
So many botanical gardens! Butchart Gardens in Victoria, British Columbia, was a highlight, certainly, but mom never met a garden she didn’t love. (We have a nice one here in Albuquerque, too!)
So many people we have known in our lives! Relatives, friends, neighbors, church family, schoolmates, work colleagues, piano teachers, scouting companions.
So many places where we have all lived as a family, and where we have all gathered as adults! Idaho, Indiana, New Mexico, California, Missouri, New York.
Not just her memories, but mine, too
And it’s not just our family life together, with our other two brothers and our parents. It’s personal stuff about our individual lives as adults:
So many photos, letters, and other reminders of my own past!
So many different haircuts, apartments, jobs, and relationships!
So many mixed feelings – does anyone encounter only good memories along memory lane?
Particularly touching are the cards my boss sent her, unbeknownst to me – Get Well, Mother’s Day – during her final illness…the boyfriend she kept in touch with after we broke up (he was very sweet, and worth keeping in touch with, as have I)…other people in my adult life, whom I’d forgotten she’d ever met, who also had their photo snapped by her, or wrote her a note or a card. They’re all there in Mom’s Boxes.
Do we all have the same boxes?
I have heard from many of you since starting this blog series. It seems we all have the same boxes… although maybe not so many of them!
As I wrote in Keepsakes: Legacy or Liability?:
I can’t tell you how many clients I’ve had with a garage or storage unit full of stuff they inherited from a loved one. These items represent a mix of emotions – memories good and bad; guilt over wanting to reclaim the space they occupy; fear that they will accidentally discard a priceless heirloom. They are paralyzed with indecision: Am I be
traying my loved one if I part with this? Will I forget them if I don’t keep all their stuff? (I promise you won’t!) How, and where, can I get rid of it? How, and where, can I keep it?
Some clients’ homes are decorated with grandma’s artwork and accessories, which are not reflective of their own taste. Some are seeking moral support during box-opening time, not knowing, or not remembering, what’s in the boxes and anticipating an unwanted flood of emotions. Once the last flap is lifted, though, often as not, the reaction is, “What the heck is that?!”, and laughter ensues rather than tears.
My advice? Take it easy. One box at a time. Let yourself feel the feelings that your own memory lane evokes.
But do it. There’s no need to do it right away, but also don’t keep putting it off for 16 years like I did.
Ask for help if you need moral or organizing support.
Do you have the same boxes I do?
How did you deal with them? Or, are they still sitting there?
Please share with us in the comments below!
So far in this series:
Mom’s Boxes Part 3: Trip down memory lane
Copyright 2017 by Hazel Thornton, Organized For Life.
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