Friday, July 30, 2010

What's Important

I've spent the past two days cleaning out my dad's office and some of his house with one of my sisters and my brother. The box you see is just one of several boxes of cards and photographs and newspaper articles that my dad saved. Cards from us, articles about us, photographs taken when we all got together or sent to him.

In the cabinets, we found several such boxes of things that he got when his mother died, when my other grandparents died, when my great-aunt died. And in them, the same things: photographs, articles, cards, lists of people who brought food or made memorial donations. We've made a decision to throw a lot of it away, especially legal papers about things that happened in the past. Things like photographs of people we don't know and minutes from church meetings.

It has brought home to me that what means something to me, what I'm saving, the cards my children sent my dad, the church bulletins that he put in a drawer because one of the children was christened that Sunday, the newspaper pictures or articles about our family, may not mean anything to my kids. When I die, when my husband dies, they may go through the boxes of things I'm packing to bring home, look at everything perfunctorily, and decide they don't need to keep those things anymore.

It has made me ask how long something carries meaning for a family. Two generations or three, four at the most. There have been a lot of things I've thrown away fairly easily, but some of it I need to keep. For my children to keep or throw away.

I will say that the most meaningful things we've found are letters. And I wonder what people will find meaning in now when emails are the main form of communication and we delete them after we read them.

It has been a rough couple of days, but I've learned a lot about what I think is important. I appreciate my dad keeping all those things, so I could decide.


Virginia S. Wood, Psy.D. said...

The amateur genealogist in me would love to have that stuff!

Allie said...

Unfortunately, I keep everything. I have to update my keepsake boxes every so often, because my collection of all sorts of stuff continues to grow. I'm running out of room...I guess eventually I'll have to rent a storage locker. Hmmph.

Be well, Mamie.


kenju said...

I have a lot of my mom's stuff, her sister's stuff, my grandmother's stuff and now my stuff too. I wonder what my kids will do with it all?

Don't trash the old photos. Artists can sometimes use them in collages and historians like them.