The Persistence of Memories

February 6, 2014 at 6:20 pm 2 comments

bundle of old lettersLast year, for my birthday, a dear, long-time friend sent me three letters I had written to her eons ago. I caught my breath and felt a lump form in my throat when I saw that vaguely familiar loopy adolescent handwriting and the ancient return address. I chuckled out loud over the goofy notation on the backside of one of the envelopes, “To open, insert big toe under flap and wiggle.”

Reading the letters themselves, the words and thoughts of my 14-to-17-year-old self, led me through a whole catalogue of feelings. This was possibly the most meaningful gift I have ever received. A little background:

I am a saver. It’s a compulsion I’ve been trying to rein in, having now disbursed the material belongings for two households with similar inclinations. There’s nothing like plowing through someone else’s inexplicable stashes – used zippers and outdated advice columns anyone? – to make one take the vow. My husband and I are determined not to leave the same massive challenge behind for our survivors. But holding onto things is a tough tendency to reform, with its intensely emotional and deep-planted roots.

To be clear, there are two kinds of motivation for us saver-types. One, the practical if extremist conserve/reuse/recycle mentality; the other, a result of being raised by a thrower, and the sense of grief that the loss of childhood treasures can create. I suffer the double-whammy of being plagued by both impulses, and crushing regret over lost diaries, doll collections, and scrapbooks plagues my psyche to this day.

So my approach to “clearing out” is definitely a cautious one. Over the past decade of trolling through the files of departed loved ones, I have appreciated coming across old correspondence, which either makes a good contribution to the Family History portfolio – another project for another day – or becomes a perfect opportunity to re-gift the original sender by sharing the long-lost sentiments of an earlier day. A note written by a beloved aunt to my mother-in-law when her baby boomer sons were still toddlers; a beautiful letter sent to that same mother-in-law by her soon-to-be daughter-in-law in 1970; actual recordings of the voices of my stepmother’s three grandsons, circa 19774.

When I received my own such offering from a friend who knows me well enough to understand how very much I would value it, my goal of carefully preserving all that which has meaning and sharing it with others was reinforced ten-fold.

I started with my own Christmas card stash, and tossed all the generic messages, saving only the photos and annual letters. That’s one whole grocery bagful to the recycling bin and out of my file drawer.

Next, my own bulging file folders labeled “Personal Correspondence” and “Consumer Correspondence.” Most of the consumer-related stuff can be purged, although you may see a few prime examples of snarky and indignant complaints reprinted here for your entertainment in the future. But the personal communications will be fine-tooth-combed for opportunities to share the delights of a photographically accurate step back in time with others.

Today, a friend’s daughter celebrates her 13th birthday. This child was a mid-life blessing to a loving mom who had finally found her prince, and I remember the day of her baby’s birth with crystal clarity. What I had forgotten was the charming content of emails this mom and I exchanged leading up to her miracle baby’s entrance into the world.

Today I am putting together a folder of chronologically-ordered email exchanges I printed out and filed away at the time. This afternoon, I will deliver this collection to the mom along with her daughter’s birthday gift. The notes are replete with joy and humor and a teensy bit of angst, and they transported me right back to the time and place and state of mind of their origins. They made me smile, they touched my heart, and they recaptured lost moments.

I hope and pray that they will do the same for my good friend, also known as the beautiful Sarah’s mom.

Advertisements

Entry filed under: Advice For Life. Tags: , , , , .

Kids Say the Darnedest Things True Romantics

2 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Christine Lentz  |  February 6, 2014 at 6:23 pm

    Lovely

    From: Your Recipes For Life Reply-To: Your Recipes For Life Date: Thursday, February 6, 2014 12:20 PM To: Christine Lentz Subject: [New post] The Persistence of Memories

    WordPress.com kirkhams posted: “Last year, for my birthday, a dear, long-time friend sent me three letters I had written to her eons ago. I caught my breath and felt a lump form in my throat when I saw that vaguely familiar loopy adolescent handwriting and the ancient return address. “

    Reply
  • 2. Craig  |  February 9, 2014 at 5:59 pm

    I too have saved a lot of things. I have started to “clean house” by scanning in hundreds of pictures so I can get rid of all the negatives & most of the original pictures. Scanning is only half the work the other is coming up with a good naming convention so one can find the ones you want in the future.

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Trackback this post  |  Subscribe to the comments via RSS Feed


Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 258 other followers

About

Recipe. According to Encarta, "a list of ingredients and instructions for making something." The thesaurus offers the alternate terms, "formula, guidelines, directions, steps, technique."

And what is the "something" we are aiming for here? Simply a life of robust good health in every important area - spiritual, physical, cognitive, and emotional.

To that end we offer inspirational real-life stories about PEOPLE OF FAITH AND COURAGE; menus and cooking directions meant to fuel your creative inclinations and your healthy body in the form of MUSINGS OF A MIDWESTERN FOODIE; and ADVICE FOR LIFE from the perspective of those who have lived it to maturity. (Click on the green category tabs at the top of this page to learn more about each section.)

Have a taste and see what you think. If you like what we are serving up, please tell your family, friends, co-workers, and neighbors to stop by for a visit, too.

For automatic reminders of new posts, sign up for an Email Subscription, above.

Past and current posts.

February 2014
M T W T F S S
« Nov   Apr »
 12
3456789
10111213141516
17181920212223
2425262728  
© Sue Anne W. Kirkham and www.yourrecipesforlife.com 2009-2011. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Sue Anne W. Kirkham and www.yourrecipesforlife.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

%d bloggers like this: