Pass it on

As I sit here packing up a box of old photos to send to M, I consider her reaction. It’s the same reaction I get from any of my children when I give them something that’s been in the family for awhile.

“Are you sick? What’s the matter? Are you going to die?”

Because, after all, that’s when people pass on things like that.

So. Am I sick?  Not any more so than any other day. Am I dying?  Not that I know of. (But then again, who knows?)

On the other hand, I am, in my family, the Keeper of Things. I have photos of each child going back to the womb. I have elementary school papers, ecology projects, ceramic handprints with sentimental sayings, report cards, mementos of first high school dances, graduation gowns and much more. I also have mine. And my mother’s. I have old McCall’s handicraft magazines with my mother’s designs featured in them.  I have magazines featuring my articles. I have my grandmother’s beautiful frilly square dance dresses that I remember her wearing when I was a kid as she and my grandfather kicked up their heels in small town Indiana. I have baby clothing too cute to recycle and about a million shells that we collected in Florida over 12 years.

This is why, as I get to the point of seeing my mortality in the distance– and seeing my cluttered house much closer– that I am going through the photos and the family hand-me-downs, and passing them on. I gave my great-grandmother’s pieced quilt she made for my birth to B a couple of years ago. I’ll be giving the small table and chairs my mother and mother-in- law refinished to M for her little ones. Better they should be enjoyed now than rest in a closet for the next ten or twenty years, wouldn’t you say?

But don’t worry, I won’t give it all away. I still keep the albums with the photos of the face M made when she ate her first sno-cone, and B’s days at nursery school on the University of Miami campus, while I was a single mom in law school. There’s evidence of all our family trips, to Key West, to the California coast, to Michigan, to Mammoth Caves, to Washington D.C., to Toronto and more. And the hair. The 1980s hair. Teased bangs how high???  (Don’t worry, I’m saving those for blackmail opportunities. Yes, I am truly evil.)

It’s been a great life, not always what I’ve expected or planned, but maybe that’s better. Now the children can have their part of the heritage, seeing a little bit of me, and a little bit of them as they move into adulthood and write their own stories. Nothing’s permanent. Life’s joys and sorrows, as they say, are better shared.  So, pass it on.

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7 thoughts on “Pass it on

  1. When my kids move out I also plan to pass it all on as soon as they find a long term home. It is theirs and I know where to find it if I want to look at it 🙂

  2. while cleaning her house, mom found my Fischer Price Circus – a birthday gift when i was 5 years old! i have memories of riding the cart down the hallway… it’s about 12″ high, 18″ long, and i can’t believe my butt ever fit on it… the circus is proudly displayed in my new “barbie dream condo” living room!

    the joys of excavating treasures!

  3. Kids are always weird about getting history from their parents, and I like your kids, always have this feeling of “Why are you doing this, out of the blue – what’s wrong?” But I have to tell you, that each piece of history my father has handed to me (because he is the memory keeper in my family), I have treasured and valued, and I am sure your kids feel the same way.

    We don’t like to act like we care or find importance in these things, photos, and stories, but we do, more than we will ever show our parents…why we hold back these feelings I still don’t understand, but just know your kids are drinking it all in and understand the importance.

  4. You know it’s kinda funny to me. When I first moved I went to put away a couple boxes in an out of the way little used closet. When I open the door it was stuffed. With what you ask? Several boxes of empty CD cases from her eldest daughter. Empty CD cases. She was in Europe. With the CDs I assume. 4 boxes of the Middle’s… stuff. And I lost count of the amount of boxes filled with Youngest’s things. My fist thought was… “WTF?” Then I asked why she had all this… “stuff”.
    I moved a lot, and I mean A LOT (every two – 3 years we packed up and moved, a family of 6. I can pack a U-Haul in nothing flat. However I don’t keep things. Or I keep pieces of things. Then every so often I throw everything away. *shrugs* Maybe my kids are missing out. Who knows. One thing for sure when Cabana Boy 9000 does show up I’ll be able to fit all my stuff in the back seat. Let’s see.. A computer, another computer.. a laptop.. and a pillow. No if I leave the pillow I can fit in my server. Oh well.

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