It occurred to me over the past year that my children will never remove the approximately 100 large boxes stored in my attic. They have good reasons, mostly consisting of “We have no place for it.” I even resorted to saying “When I die, all you will do is throw everything out in the trash and the neighbors will think I was a hoarder.”
But the conversation did result in my pulling my own memory boxes out. I didn’t have much to begin with, but my goal was to throw out half of what I had. I asked myself a question: After I’m gone, which items will be of value to my kids?” The answer was: Virtually nothing. But I did get rid of the following:
Many dozens of greeting cards given to my parents when I was born and given to me when each of my kids was born. I know I was born, and they know they were born. I can congratulate myself on being born and they can do the same with themselves. So none of us need greeting cards.
Sex manuals from 1943 and 1945. These were my dad’s, before he got married. I realized that he must have learned something from them because I was born. None of my kids ever seemed to need manuals. If you want them, check eBay.
An earring from my 1995 performance as Tina Turner. If you are asking how well a 48- year-old short Jewish woman who can’t carry a tune would do as Tina Turner, I think you already know the answer.
An inordinate amount of old poetry, short pieces, and unfinished manuscripts. I will always be grateful that these were written before the advent of the internet. Otherwise, I would have probably flung this dreadful stuff out into cyberspace, and, in later years when I came to my senses, it would have been too late.
The following is what I still have, although I suspect its shelf life is limited:
Shorty pajamas I wore in 1957. My birthday is in May. I wanted sweaters as gifts. I always got shorty pajamas. I’m not sure whether I originally saved these because I thought they were cute or as a reminder that life sucks.
The three shorty nightgowns I wore to give birth to each of my kids.
My Tiny Tears doll, now in pieces, giving credibility to the tears.
Campus newspapers from 1969, filled with dissension and hippie illustrations.
A letter to me from my best friend, written in 1961. The words were all backward, because, while other girls our age were going to make out parties, my friend and I wrote backward and sang songs backward to be cool. To this day I can sing “See You in September” backward. In later years, I used that and my rendition of the beginning of the Superman TV show, to impress guys. This is why I didn’t go to my senior prom.
A report card from high school which proves that it is entirely possible to not date or run around, do one’s homework and study for tests, and, because Typing and Science are requirements, still get Cs.
My diary from age 13, which should have been the first item pitched. It is filled with anguish, awkwardness, and unrequited love. And those were the good days. The diary is proof positive that meds in later years are a good thing.
A report card from 4th grade, with the notation “Fine progress except for written expression.” The words “written expression” are underlined.
The next time I go up to the attic, I will halve the items again. I will keep doing this until there is virtually nothing left. There is nothing I can do about my children’s 100 boxes. But I will take a marker and write clearly on each one “This box belongs to my child. It is not mine.” That way, when there is a mountain of boxes outside after my demise, people won’t shake their heads and feel sorry for me.
Now, up to the attic again, to destroy that report card from 4th grade.