Boxes in the Attic

Sometimes when I am up in my attic, I feel guilt.

I have at least three boxes of stuff that my mom wanted to keep. When she moved out of her small two-bedroom house into a shared room in a nursing home, there were twelve boxes of things I hauled to my house and kept because she could not bear to let them go. I couldn’t fathom telling her no. In the years after her death, I have slowly gone through the boxes as I felt strong enough. Kept some things. Donated some things. But still there are three boxes still up there that I need to go through and make decisions. I feel like I should have tackled it by now.

Planning my next display case for work, I decided to do photos and scrapbooks. I have scrapbooks I have made, paper, stickers, lots of pictures from different time periods and at least three different types of negatives (guessing those are a “what is that” or maybe a trip down memory lane thing). Going to highlight the fact that we have so many digital pictures but there is something special about having ones you can hold in your hand, hang on the wall or put in a scrapbook with ticket stubs and dinner receipts of fun nights out. The one right now is about cards and letter writing so sort of the same vein.

There is a wooden box that I inherited from my mom long before she had to clean out her house. Old pictures and important papers she told me when she gave it to me. I have glanced in it from time to time but had not really dug into the envelopes and baggies to see what is in there. I opened it today and laughed.

This box was my mother’s box of guilt it seems. It contains what looks to be the contents of her mom’s desk and important papers area. There are recipes and pictures. There are lists of cards to send and clippings from newspapers. All these things meant things to my grandmother, they were pieces of her life and I very much understand the mental panic of do I keep this or do I not. And that no time to sort, just take it all and we will figure out what we need later in that last-minute cleaning things out. So, my mother kept it, put it in this wooden box and gave it to me.

The top picture was one of the things I found in the box. In high school, if I did not know how to spell a word, I would call my grandmother and she would spell it for me. She was a well read, intelligent woman known for quilt making, being a telephone operator and taking care of others. The more I looked at the papers all folded up together, I realized they were calendars from the nursing home she was living in her later years and she was doing word games as she sat to keep her mind active. What an unexpected and lovely gift on a snowy day as I had no idea this about my grandmother and yet can picture it perfectly.

I feel a little less guilty about the boxes upstairs. It probably just is not the time to open them and go through them. Sometime will be the right time to tackle them. To quote Scarlett, after all tomorrow is another day.

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