Monday, March 1, 2010

A Time Capsule

The house is in disarray, but is it possible to have "good" disarray? Ask me if I feel that way in a couple of days, when the mess is still here... :-)

Actually, my son, who moved back in a couple of months ago when he joined the unemployed - along with so many more - has tackled the bedroom he is supposed to be living in. Since it had become a storage room because I have no attic or basement space, there was a lot to be done! The room is looking better, but now there are significant piles of organized chaos throughout the rest of the house. Hopefully it doesn't take too long to get through them all, and hopefully, again, I can bring myself to let go of some of these things!

Why do we hang onto the past? What is it that makes us feel that it was a better time? Really, was it?

As my son and his girlfriend made their way through the room, they made it a goal to get rid of anything that they labeled "garbage," which to them many times meant paper products: newspaper, invoices, school papers, etc. They had spent more than a day filling plastic bags with this garbage when I came upon just a couple of examples where we might disagree:
  1. In one pile of newspaper I located the group that had been saved of the coverage of my husband's dog attack.
  2. Located only by the obvious goldenrod color, my copies of a school newsletter I had worked on for many years had made it into the garbage bag already.
Why do I keep these things? What makes me "need" them in the future? Certainly my son didn't know or understand the significance. Shouldn't my memories keep me; do I really need the papers to help me remember?

The single most obvious answer for me is: Yes. Watching my mom deal with her Alzheimer's for just the short three months she's been here now, I can tell you that in time I won't even think about these things anymore, let alone be able to remember the details. I keep them as a sort of a "time capsule" - something I can pull out later, wander through and remember what was going on during that period of my life in a very specific way: they are dated! Even with photos it's becoming more and more difficult to do this. I have whole collections of photos that have no date on them, and those are the ones that have made it to be printed. I won't even talk about the ones stored on my computer, that, while they are dated, run the risk of hard drive failure.

Along with the two examples I've already cited, you can also find in my capsule: A spiral bound book of hand-drawings from my third child's 2nd grade class, entitled "Five Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed;" every report card I received in high school, and an assortment from other years; a copy of my SAT scores and my college transcript (two single pages, seriously!); notes from a Cub Scout planning session with info from each family (names!) on who would be responsible for what items at the upcoming camping trip; various assorted drawings and photos drawn or taken by my artsy kids; and two copies of my daughter's scoliosis x-rays, one early on and the other as her spine was beginning to resolve - much straighter!

Really, there's more. Obviously. My kids just roll their eyes at me, but I'm not ready to give up these things yet, if I ever will be. I am looking forward to the day when I pull out the - hopefully single - box that contains these precious items and can spend a couple of hours just perusing my past, remembering the teacher who went the extra mile and documented early drawings, the efforts that went into college, the 10 years as a Cub Scout leader (yes, I'll be remembering all three groups for whom I was den leader, as well as my three years with the Girl Scouts!), the wonderful fact that I gave birth to different kinds of people - some with artistic talent, and just how far we were able to come to better my daughter's life as she walks into adulthood much taller and straighter.

I can feel the warmth of it all already. The gratefulness of a life well-spent, the acknowledgement of the many years as a parent, and earlier as a young adult. For all of this I am thankful. And hopeful - in less than two months I will become a grandparent for the first time. Think of all the new things I can add to my box!

Overall, I would say it has been a good week. :0)

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