When my mom died, in 2001, she left us 33 boxes of scrapbooks. Not 33 scrapbooks; 33 moving boxes full of them.
By scrapbooks I mean albums, binders, and notebooks full of memorabilia — photos, cards, letters, memoirs, and souvenirs. And who knows what else? These are in addition to the scrapbooks and photo albums she created for each of her four kids specifically, which we already have in our possession.
As her executor, guess what I did with them?
What I did about Mom’s boxes then
Did I sort through all of Mom’s boxes to decide which of my brothers and I would like to have what? Did I preserve their contents in an archival manner? Did I organize the photos and digitize them? Nooooo…..I did not. It was overwhelming. In my defense, I hadn’t yet heard of NAPO and started my professional organizing career!
My solution to this problem, I confess, was to give my brother, Mike, the one who lives in Albuquerque where I happen to live now too, enough money to build a shed in his back yard to house the scrapbooks. We moved them down from Boise, Idaho, and there they sit 16 years later.
What I’m doing about them now
It’s time. Now that I am an APPO-certified photo organizer, I am getting inspired and educated about how to deal with it all, and how to honor and share the 20% I plan to keep.
I know what’s in many of Mom’s boxes. They aren’t a treasure trove of priceless heirlooms. Or are they? I’m thinking it will be 80% crap. To us, that is. Certainly not to my mother! But maybe they contain some genealogy puzzle pieces and photos I’ve never seen. If so, I can only hope they’re still in good shape, since the shed is not climate controlled and doubles as a gardening shed.
Happy Mother’s Day
Mike and I agreed that Mother’s Day was as good a day as any to start this project. I explained that I wanted to first take “before” photos, set up a table in the yard, then excavate a few boxes from the shed and open them up to see what’s inside. To which he replied: “Or, we could check the inventory.” Wait, what? There’s an inventory? Ha ha! Of course there is!
Yes, I come by it naturally. The organizing gene is one of the gifts I got from Mom. (Dad’s organized too!) Her father kept meticulous notes about his activities and projects, and recorded every expense down to newspapers, bus fare, and ice cream cones. And, although it was my mom who stored her memorabilia in clearly labeled binders and albums, it was her sister, my aunt George Ann, who boxed them by category, labeled the boxes, and created the inventory.
A challenging process
In case you are wondering, it will be just as challenging for me to get rid of, or decide what to do with, these things as it is for any of my clients who have lost loved ones and had to deal with the stuff they left behind. I can relate, trust me! If I thought it would be easy, wouldn’t I have done it sooner? Fortunately, I am well-equipped with tools and methods to get me through. And I have a willing local sibling to help me.
It has been already, and will be yet, a long process. By now we have opened about half the boxes. Next time I’ll tell you about some of the trash, and some of the treasures, we’ve found so far.
Have you ever been in a similar situation? How did you deal with it?
Please share with us in the comments below!
Future Mom’s Boxes episodes: The Gangster Hideout, Saving the Photos, Sharing the Photos, ???
Copyright 2017 by Hazel Thornton, Organized For Life.
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