Wednesday, March 28, 2007

The Memory Box

It’s hard to decide what kinds of things should go in a memory box. I have one for Dear Son and one for myself. The objective of a memory box is so you’ll keep just your favorite things and not keep lots of stuff to make your home cluttered. I am highly organized so that’s not really an issue, but I do try to edit fairly well.

Typically, you have just one memory box to store all of those important momentos. When the box gets full, you edit, making choices on what objects to keep or rather, what objects are more important to you than others. Over time, you’ll look back and then you will have all of the keepsakes from the highlights of your life. And therein lies the dilemma.

For most people, you simply keep a finite amount of things. You don’t worry so much about tossing out too much, since there are always new events or things coming into your life. Life marches on and so do the memories.

But what about when life is, well, more finite. I have some things for Dear Son that I don’t want to part with. The question is, how much is too much? What if I get rid of some things and then he passes? Will I regret having eliminated some stuff?

I saved his AFOs. AFOs are leg braces that he wore as a toddler. He started wearing them when he was three and got a new pair every year. He never wore shoes much before then. He didn’t walk and well, his feet were kind of balled up and lacking tone so putting on shoes was an exercise in futility for the most part. Shoes were just for looks. But the AFOs were important. Some mothers save their baby’s first shoes but I saved his AFOs. I used to save all of them up to the present. That means one new pair every year. It was cool to see how much he has grown. The plastic braces fit around his foot and halfway up his leg, so it gave you a good impression of his little legs. What mother wouldn’t love that? But did I need to save them all? No, of course not. I got rid of quite a few some time ago and saved the others.

But what do I save? Or rather, what should I get rid of? I have a small maple rocker that he loved for many years. Ten years of rocking in that chair. I love it and I can still see his happy face sitting in the rocker or his face leaning up against the window as he would look out.

Or what about his Red Flyer Wagon? That was cute too. I thought about making it into a storage chest of sorts. Adding new legs to it and then adding a maple top to it. In the center of the top, adding picture frame molding and putting a picture of him in his red wagon on top. What a wonderful reminder of Dear Son as a little boy. I thought I could store all of his scrapbooks in there; the ones I’ll make when he’s gone, when I have lots of free time on my hands.

And then there are all of the school projects. I don’t keep any of the ones he didn’t make himself, well, not really anyway. If I were to be truthful, he didn’t make any of them himself, but there are some of them that they made with his hands, so a turkey for Thanksgiving might have a picture of Dear Son’s hand dipped in paint. Those are keepers for sure.

But what about all of the Barney’s? I have a half of a dozen Barney’s that he loved so much. All of them, dog eared and loved a lot by Dear Son. How do I throw those away?

And what should I do with all of these things? If I throw them away and he dies, I have nothing. If I keep a few of them, will I wish I had saved more? I have fewer things to save, since he can’t do as much. So that makes what he does have and what he used to do, all that much more important. What do you do when they don’t make memories anymore? You look in the memory box. You open it up and remember the good times. I am certain when the time comes, I am going to need all of these things. And I bet I’ll be glad that I kept them.


Anonymous said...

Keep it all. I would, but then I'm a packrat about certain things. Some I've let go over time...

I remember that after my mom died I kept a dress of hers. My Mom was a terminal size 6 and I am (well) WAAAY over that. SHe was a fashion desinger in her day. her claim to fame was designing a winning outfit for a Mademoiselle magazine contest in the 1940s.

Her dress, a 1960's shift/evening gown, was made from hand-embriodered silk w/butterflies. I remembered her telling me about that dress growing up. How her parents got her that fabric in the Orient and that she had someone make it to her specifications.

She passed away in 1989. I finally released that dress to a co-worker three years ago. She was getting married and started a new life.

My memory of that dress (and my mom) is still with me, but the dress lives on in my co-worker's wardrobe.

Now her 1930s/1940s paper dolls? No way! That stays with me...close to my heart! Those captured her in pure essence!

Kath said...

Over the last 5 years I have become a part-time professional organizer. When a treasure becomes too much/too large/whatever to keep, I suggest taking a picture of it. Keep the picture, get rid of the item.

You could do that with the Barney's.

As for the rocker, make it stable, cut a hole in the seat and use it as a planter.

The Red Flyer wagon would make a darling storage chest...that idea is right on the mark.

And while you might not realize it, your blog is a very special memory of Dear Son's life. It is how you came to share him with us.

The MSILF said...

My mom kept t-shirts of all kinds of things we did as kids - vacation t-shirts, the ones with the school name, etc. This year, she cut the logos and stuff out of them and sewed them into a quilt. I think there's a way to keep a whole lot, without it being overwhelming...turning it into something without having to keep 25 t-shirts. I am sure some of the memories and scrapbook people have tons of ideas on how to do that with all kinds of stuff, not just t-shirts. Check around.

zoe said...

Save it all Dream Mom and over time after Dear Son is gone you will know what you want to keep.

Anonymous said...

Oh what a lovely and bittersweet post. How to decide what to keep in a memory box when you have stopped making memories...that, Dream Mom, that makes my heart hurt.

Kath is right...this blog is the ultimate memory box; a journal of your life with Dear Son.

I say keep it all for now. You just won't know what you'll need until you have to, and when you'll need it, you will really, really need it.

Anonymous said...

After my son Christopher died, I had kept EVERYTHING - I mean, old meds, his old g-tube, etc. Granted Christopher was only 22 months when he passed, but I just couldn't get rid of the stuff, it hurt too much at the time. I guess it was about 5 or 6 years after he passed that I really began the process of letting go of the stuff that really wasn't him: he wasn't his ambu-bag, his oxygen tubing, his old meds. etc. etc. Christopher was to me, his favorite soft yellow blanky, his sweet little jacket, his favorite toy.

I have condensed considerably over the years and I am content with what I have stored in his hope chest.

Jamie from Oregon
P.S. One thing I did let go of right away was his fancy new wheelchair he had just aquired. I donated it to the Shriner's Hospital and it went to a little boy who had no medical coverage due to he was an "illegal alien". I got to meet him and his mom when he got it and he was absolutely overjoyed! The mom could barely speak english, but cried and hugged me and said how sorry she was that I lost my son - that is the biggest gift I could have gotten.

jennifergg said...

Get a bigger box, or a second box. I don't think a life will fit in just one box, per se. Maybe some lives...maybe not.

These are bigger decisions than keeping down the clutter. I say, when you know what to keep and let go of, you'll know. In the mean time, save it all.

Anonymous said...

Dream Mom-You had a great post on cleaning,organizing,etc. and when I went back to re-read it, it was gone? Is it MIA or will it return? It looked great when I glanced at it.

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