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I can’t part with memories
By Connie Swaim

Circa

Harry Rinker and I may not agree on everything; but in his column above, I could not agree more. I cannot imagine ever throwing away a box of Christmas cards that my mother had saved. Frankly, I can’t imagine throwing anything away.

When Mom died; my brothers and I, as well as all of Mom’s grandkids, got to keep anything they wanted. There weren’t any fights. What we didn’t keep went to an auction. I probably should have sent more things to the auction, but I just couldn’t. Everything evoked a memory.

But, what will I do with all of those items? I don’t have children. So, there is no one coming up behind me to shoulder the burden of preserving the memoires. I do have five nieces and nephews as well as three great nieces and nephews. But, due to distance I do not know them as well as I knew my aunts when I was younger. I know I should make an effort to be more involved in their lives. After all, I may need them to care for me in my old age.

This is a dilemma I try not to think about. For example, I have two large trash bags filled with T-shirts that belonged to Mom. Mom and I both shared the habit of getting T-shirts wherever we went. So, the shirts have memories based on where Mom was when she got the shirt. For example, her New Orleans shirt commemorates the trip she and I took the summer after Dad died. It was an experiment to see if we could have fun traveling and we did. And I can’t throw away the I survived the Blackout New York 2003. Mom and I were in New York City on Aug. 14, 2003 when the largest blackout up until that point in time happened. An estimated 10 million people in Ontario and 45 million people in eight U.S. states were affected. All of New York City went dark. We were on a tour bus having just returned from Ellis Island when all the traffic signals went out. Talk about gridlock. We did make it back to our hotel, but since we were on the 21st floor and elevators weren’t working, we ended up sleeping on chairs in one of the hotel’s ballrooms. I stood outside the hotel and got to see something few have ever seen: darkness on Times Square. It was somewhat frightening at the time and certainly a bit inconvenient (no running water), but the power came on the next day, we continued our vacation and we bought the T-shirt.

My goal is to have a friend make quilts for all of the family out of the T-shirts. They have only been sitting in the garage for eight years. I’m sure I’ll get to that someday.

And I have furniture that belonged to both sets of my grandparents. I sure as heck can’t let go of that; even though most of it is in storage right now. Someday I want to have a house to display it all. I have a washstand painted numerous colors (whenever Grandma Swaim redid the bathroom she painted it.). It still has my grandparent’s phone number written in pencil inside one of the drawers. I have the necklace Dad got in Chicago when he was a Marine stationed there in 1957. He gave it to Mom on their first Christmas after they met.

And reading a story this week about a man who donated his collection of postcards to the Lewes History Museum in Delaware, it made me think about the 1,000-plus Parke County postcards I have. They need to find a good home at some point when I am done loving them.

I guess after I’m dead I won’t care what happens to all of my stuff. But, in my heart, I hope someone treasures at least some of it and manages to keep a few of the memories alive.

10/29/2017
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