Friday, January 11, 2008

Sorting through my mom's keepsakes

Once again, as I mentioned on my other site, I'm tackling the mountain of keepsakes and pictures my mom stored up before her death.  If the pictures weren't in albums, they'd almost be easier to deal with, because it would be simpler to toss the photos of strangers.  But everybody's in there, all mixed together in no certain order, stuck between those plastic sheets that often stick to the pictures:  People from a half-dozen different churches, distant cousins' children, old neighbors, and so forth.

One thing that makes this task difficult is that I wonder what to do with so many things:  Pictures of my grandchildren that she had hanging on her walls, for example.  I have copies of all the same pictures, so I don't need them.  Yet I hate to destroy them.  I'm fairly certain my granddaughter, Amber, wants all her childhood pictures.

Mother kept certain letters and notes out of sentiment.  There's a letter Cliff wrote her perhaps sixteen years ago, thanking her for all the times she and Daddy had helped us out with "payday loans".  I can see why she kept it, because Cliff is NOT one to write letters.  I'll let him read it, and then what?  Will I destroy it, or save it so he and I can read it again in a few years?

She saved notes and pictures from grandchildren, and even great-grandchildren.  Here are a couple of examples, sent to my dad in 1987, not long before he died.  Wow, that's over twenty years ago!

My nephew's boys sent these home-made cards to Daddy.  I believe they sometimes peek in on my journal, and I'm waiting to hear whether either of them (or their parents) wants these.

There are so many things like these that I hesitate to throw away, just in case somebody else wants them.

Another example, although at least she left instructions on this one:  During the war in Iraq when our son Jim was stationed over there, Mother wrote a letter, evidently, to President Bush (the first one).  I imagine she must have told him all about her grandson being there.  Anyway, she received a letter from the White House.  From what I can tell, it appears to be a form letter, but I think my mom took it as a personal reply, and wrote on the envelope, "To be given to Jim after my death".

So, my son Jim:  at her request I will save it for you.  What you do with it is none of my concern.


magran42 said...

Oh, we had the same problem when my MIL died.  With my Mother it will be a different story.  Often I go there now to catch her throwing out things, pictures included.  I have to watch closely for fear she will throw out or give away something that is dear to me.

magran42 said...

I remember when you did some of this last winter.  That Flylady really gets us going.  At least you don't have to "live" in your's all out of sight when you close the door.  That's not the case with me.

schoolgal040 said...

Hi Donna,
One day I need to go through my many pictures too.
I'm glad to see someone else supporting Ron Paul. Even though I'm a proud Democrat, Ron Paul is the only one who shows me anything worth voting for. Hope he is coming to our caucus here in Vegas.


marainey1 said...

When my parents passed away these past 2 years, I gave each of my children their pictures and keepsakes they had given my parents over the years. My Mom did not save alot of things like cards and letters, but had lots of photos.  My one sister took all the old pictures of my mom and lots of people we didn't know and put them in a trunk along with Dad's WWII mementos and there they will remain for future generations to pass on.  Hopefully they will.  'On Ya' -ma

breakaway1968 said...

I don't go through my moms things anymore because all it does is make me cry.  It was hard enough going through it all the first time! Me and my sisters will get together and look at pics and things she had and not a one of us wanted to throw anything out! lol  We had everything she started with saved!  Four of us girls sitting there all crying thinking OH we can't get rid of this or that or that!
And as for the things she has...I would return them to whoever made them or gave them to her.  Thats what we did and everyone was happy ;)  

h3ath3rjan3 said...

Hi Donna! Those pictures are precious! I'm sure the boys would like to have them back. They'd fit nicely in the books that Maxine has kept for them all their lives. Brian has talked to Emalee and Ethan about Grandma and Grandpa Great. They'd love to see them, too.

Enjoy the Memories!

ora4uk said...

My sisters and I made a box...with each childs name on...shoeboxes we used....and we separated that way...the most we could anyway...and gave the box to the person...they could do as they please....otherwise...just put them all in a trunk...and let the kids worry about it when you are gone....!!!  well maybe you could put a name with the pics of the ones you know .... hugs...Ora   PS...and you have the joy of going thru the stuff....

mutualaide said...

My sister and I went through all of my mother's items ... what was left.  Bless that woman, she did most of it herself the last two years of her life.  She said, 'you don't need my treasured junk to go through after I'm gone.'  

Sis and I sat on the living room floor surrounded by items.  We were tough ... but did save some items, like the grandkids drawings.  I've kept the ones my girls had sent to her and they are slowly making their way into scrapbooks.  

The pictures from our families years gone by friends?  I searched her address book and then double checked addresses where I could and mailed them off to the family ... whomever we could find.  

We had nice notes back thanking us for the time and trouble.  So you just never know who will or won't want something and you just do the best you can!

gen0507 said...

That is a huge job!  I know what you mean though.  There are so many things, & you just don't know what to do with it all.  Then again, you don't want to throw it aaway either.  What do you do??


lanurseprn said...

It is so hard to go through old stuff like that for me. I still have some of my Mom's old pictures and notes. I guess I'd better start going through it...I do not want to leave it for my son. But, first, I'll clean my desk <smile>

jlester961 said...

My Grandfather gave me a huge box of family pictures a few years ago and I had the same problem - I decided to give them back to thier "owners". I divided up the ones of my Aunt Karen who passed away far too young and my Uncle on thier wedding day - those went to thier children. I walked into Merry's house after not seeing her for years and deposited pictures of her departed Aunt and her mother taken together when they were young. I had my best friend over (our grandparents had been friends) and single handedly replaced her entire family album on her Dad's side - all of her family pictures had been lost in a fire, she told me her father cried when he saw them. I could go on but I found that although a lot of those pictures didn't mean much to me - but they sure meant plenty to the people they went to.  So my advice is to give back as many as you can.

lmitc89854 said...

I lost my mother in October. She had lived with me over 25 years and I have been spending a few hours every week going through her things. Mostly pictures, cards, letters. Still haven't found her will!  I will have to resort her pictures once I finish, which ones to go to my siblings and which to her sisters and brothers. A lot of work!

geeohyoueldee said...

Donna, I would like that card to Grandpa Great if you don't mind saving it for me. Thanks for sharing these memories. Brian

helmswondermom said...

I enjoyed seeing those pictures.  It's neat that the great-grands called your father that.  My mother is known as Granny Great to her great-grandkids.  My sister Barbara sat down with my mother a few years ago and started going through all of her photo albums and loose pictures and put them in order, labeling them along the way.

rdautumnsage said...

We had the same dilemna when Doc's mom passed away. I swear the woman had tripilicate of everything. After a while it came down to her kids taking a few odds and ends that meant a lot to them and donating or selling the rest. One of the ways we look at it is, you hold memories within your heart, not your hands. (Hugs) Indigo