When I was a little girl, I used to ask my mother what was I like when I was a baby? She sometimes told me a funny story or two, she sometimes said she couldn't remember.
It was the "couldn't remember" part that bugged me. That and the fact that I had only a handful of pictures of myself to chronicle the first 7 years or so of my life. No cute newborn pictures, in fact the first picture they took of me was when I was around 7 or 8 months old.
My older brother, well, that's a different story. They had pictures of their first born (natch). His baby book was filled out for a few years...mine had my basic first days of life information. Date of birth, weight, family tree...that's about it.
I have always been accused of being a "pack rat". I saved letters from my pen pal, kept flowers from an old boyfriend pressed in a book. I saved ticket stubs and match books and all sorts of memorabilia but I eventually let go of those memories and tossed all of that stuff.
To this day, I struggle with organized clutter. Oh, my home is neatly decorated, the clutter controlled into a artful montage. But still I have a hard time letting go of gifts, clothes and pretty things. So when my daughter suggested a garage sale and I told her I didn't have much to contribute she rolled her eyes. "I can go into your kitchen right now and fill a box with things you could sell or give away". I began to purge.
My oldest daughter and my youngest daughter (my son is the middle child) came over on Monday night with the attempt to tackle the trunk where all the memento's of their childhood (and mine) has been carefully tucked away. I saved my diaries from 5th, 6th and 7th grade. They conjured up many laughs from them, and quickly they tossed it into the garbage. They tossed all the Front Page newspapers that I kept for them, telling of the new Princess across the ocean and then years later of her death. They laughed until they had tears in their eyes over the stories that they wrote in first and second grade, of the lists that they mailed off to Santa and of the funny pictures that their brother drew, complete with date and age marked in the corner by me, the thoughtful watchmom of their youth. I saved everything, but apparently I wasn't alone, as there was also some momentos that their grandmother (on their father's side) had saved of his youth and babyhood, stuff he forgot to take when our marriage split up. Probably stuff he forgot about, stuff that didn't matter anymore. Never fear, I'll save it here! and then I did. All to preserve their memories. I thought that they would thank me someday. I thought that they would relish this junk and be thankful for the reminders. So that one day, when I forgot, the junk could tell the stories that I could not.
They tossed it all away. The locks of hair, the misspelled stories and poems, the home made Mother's Day cards and the Front Page news of John Lennon's death.
I was beside myself. I fought back silly tears. I felt as though I had been working on a very large gift that took me twenty years to complete only to find out that the recipient thought it ugly junk. I choke up just typing about it.
I let the trunk and it's content go out to the garbage pick-up.
Assuaging my hurt feelings, my husband reminded me gently, "who did you save those memories for my dear? You or the kids?" I thought about it. I think it was a little of both. I think I wanted a reminder in case I forgot. In case I forgot their sweet words, in case I forgot that twenty plus years goes by so fast. But you don't forget. I still see their Kool-Aid smile faces and their sticky hands when I look at their 30 plus faces. I still hear their sweet little voices inside their 29 year old deep ones. The memories have not been hidden away. I can conjure them up if I try. My husband tells me to let that junk "go". Let it go and live in the now.
How many of you hold on to those kinds of things? How many of you keep junk around as keepsakes? How many of you think I should have scooped up stuff and held onto it awhile longer? Maybe when they are older still they might wish they would have it back?