I found the note folded up inside of his Bible. While transferring my keepsakes into a larger container, I had to wonder what’s going to happen with all of this stuff when I’m gone.
We finally built shelving around the perimeter of the basement, just so we could think it’s somewhat organized, but it’s not. We have tubs full of keepsakes holding our memories, as well as those of our parents and grandparents, and neither one of us is strong enough to get rid of anything. It’s like that cartoon where the elderly man opens the garage door, which is stuffed full of junk, turns to his son and says, “Just think, son. Someday all of this will be yours.”
I had placed one of the infamous notes Dad would write to me inside of his gold-plated Bible he had given me. The one he had carried with him during World War II. The military told them to keep it close to their heart, for comfort, but also to perhaps ricochet a bullet to the chest.
The note summarized our years together nearly perfectly. It read, “Sandy, you said I don’t need a haircut so I’ll be calling the FBI right after lunch.” This wasn’t a joke, as the dementia had made Dad more than just a little paranoid, and, as his caretaker, I was on top of his list for people to watch out for. I couldn’t part with a lot of Dad’s stuff, most of which I don’t have a clue what it is.
A good number of the items I kept of Mom’s she had taped handwritten notes onto them, carefully explaining what it was, who gave it to her and the year. How could anyone ever throw away anything your mom had taken the time to write a note about?
I know I’ve kept too much “stuff,” and the shelves in the basement are proof we are hoarders of keepsakes. I still have all of the kids’ schoolwork, favorite toys, books and blankets. From dance outfits to soccer shirts, the stories of their childhoods are stuffed in tubs simply marked keepsakes. I keep thinking about loading up all these tubs, taking them to their homes and being done with the job of being the keeper of the keepsakes. Then I worry they’ll just throw them away, which is probably what I would have done at their age, and I’m sure why my mom kept all of my tubs of stuff until it was my task to clean out her house when she was gone.
I spent most of the weekend taping notes to all of my stuff. Hopefully it will guilt one of the kids into becoming the keeper of the keepsakes when it’s their turn to figure out what to do with all these tubs.
Sandy Turner lives in Independence. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.