Sunday, April 5, 2009

Preserve your memories...

I’ll be the first to admit that it’s not easy for me to let things go.
And, unfortunately, my daughter apparently inherited this gene for being a pack rat.
She at least is organized at work, she says.
At home, well, that’s a different story.
For me, there are days when my office looks reasonably well-organized; other weeks it’s tough to find the desk. The press releases, newspapers, schedules and assorted other items seem to multiply of their own accord.
But my problem of not throwing stuff out on a regular basis at home reared its head again when my hot water heater died the other week.
It was lovely.
It picked a Friday morning, as we were trying to get ready for work, to make this fatal affliction known.
It is amazing, however, just how quickly you can get out of a shower when you have nothing but cold water.
Taking that day off to have the beast replaced was out of the question, so that meant a weekend of doing without.
Thankfully, my aunt (thank you, thank you, thank you, Aunt Ruth) lives nearby and was gracious enough to “shower” her hospitality on us, so we didn’t have to shiver again.
But in moving some “valuables” away from the water-heater area so the plumber could work unencumbered, I again realized how much junk accumulates in a basement.
And I figured now was the time to tackle that problem, before anything was moved back into place.
So last weekend I started the dreaded work, arranging a pile of tools and such that my brother-in-law might want and filling several trash bags with just plain junk.
I’m not finished by any stretch of the imagination, but it was a start.
But even though I was in the discard mood, I wasn’t quite ready for the push given me by my own negligence.
Somehow, a cardboard box filled with high school and college photos, postcards, a few souvenirs and other treasures had been shoved onto a bottom shelf.
When I went to pull if off the shelf, it basically dissolved in my hands. The rising damp had done its worst.
As I sat there trying to salvage even a few items, I had to fight back the tears. I really didn’t care about anything but the photos — and a cheap ring that featured The Beatles — but few pictures could be saved.
Why had these ever been put in a cardboard box and then put in the basement, I wondered. Why had I thought they were somewhere else, safe and sound?
This has made me want to tackle the rest of the basement as quickly as I can. There’s plenty of junk that should be discarded, after all.
But there also may be other “forgottens” that still could be saved.
As I’ve learned — once again — it’s hard to let go when you’re not prepared.
Even if it’s just some old photos.

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