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Thread: What memorabilia did you keep?

  1. #1
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    What memorabilia did you keep?

    I just got the five boxes of memorabilia I sent myself from my recent trip to clean out parents house. Most of it was papers because my brother never cleaned out the house of financial and personal papers. I am sending seven smaller parcels of stuff I am sending out to family members and a friend of my dad's, letters and photos, and I probably burned at least two boxes of what I brought back, like old medical bills and Christmas cards from people over the years.

    So I am left with stuff like the following:

    Family photos
    Family letters
    Both parents' passports
    Diplomas
    Two yearbooks, including my dead uncle's--guess will send that to my cousin
    Three boxes of financial records--how long do I have to keep this stuff? His estate not settled yet, and she is still living. Brother was going to burn it all, and we have already needed several things I found, which I gave to the co-conservator
    My dad's report cards all through elementary school
    College transcripts
    My dad's early childhood books
    Stuff my dad saved that is very endearing--his boy scout membership cards (did not realize he was a boyscout), military stuff like official papers and food and transportation vouchers, even his vaccination records

    I don't have any desire to burn this stuff, but realistically, what would you do with things like the boy scout stuff, his Guadalcanal patch? How many prayer books and bibles do I keep?

    Now I have all the stuff I am going to have in one place, which feels good, and I have already gotten rid of about half of what has come to me, which is good, but do I do this in stages--get rid of some stuff now, live with some stuff until it feels like it's time to let it go?

    And what about stuff that upsets me--I've hit a couple of letters that really bring back the negative side of his personality, and really upset me because of things he did to me over the years, or things he failed to do that normal people would have done. How do I deal with all this negative stuff?

    And while extended family wants this stuff, immediate family seems to want none of it, although I wonder if they will change their tune later when the shock of his death recedes. It's actually pretty cathartic going through the stuff, but I am ready to put it to rest, and feel I am getting some closure, and I want my own life back.

    It feels overwhelming, dealing with all of their things.

  2. #2
    Senior Member catherine's Avatar
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    I'm not a good one to respond--at least I won't be too helpful because I'm going through the same thing. I'm in NJ where a) the main objective is to get the last of our stuff out of the garage and bring it to VT and b) my son gave me two boxes of stuff that he was able to salvage after Ida's basement flood. (The 4th last time we'll lose stuff after flooding in that basement).

    Now much of our memorabilia is down to two boxes--one box of photos and one box of memorabilia which includes birth certificates and passports from DH's side of the family, old letters from DH to me when I was working in Kansas City for the 1976 Republican Convention, old high school newspapers, a note from my beloved great-aunt to me asking me to shut down the cottage with all the instructions written kindly and clearly, old 8mm film reels, old report cards and my elementary and high school diplomas. And more, of course.

    I am going to scan the birth certificates, passports and other things belong to DH's side of the family and post them to Ancestry.com. As for my stuff, I'm thinking of organizing some of it (not all--I'll pare down what really means nothing to me and the rest I might put into an annotated presentation binder of some kind. I made one for each of my kids over the years and they still have them. It makes the ephemera easy to store and look through.

    This is the type of binder I use. https://www.amazon.com/Dunwell-24-Po...79395170&psc=1

    As far as the negative correspondence, because I'm such a lover of history, on one hand I say keep it, but honestly, my gut feeling is, just get rid of it. Burn it. Get rid of those negative feelings. They don't serve you well, and no one else in your family would care to see it. And you're doing your father an act of forgiveness in a way.
    "Do any human beings ever realize life while they live it--every, every minute?" Emily Webb, Our Town
    www.silententry.wordpress.com

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    I like the binder idea. I actually found one of those from Dad's retirement party. Yes, as you say, "And more, of course." I forgot to mention the box of negatives and slides--I will make a thread asking for tech help with that one. But yeah, so many different categories.

    Lots of good ideas here. I got hung up on the idea of you working for the 1976 Republican Convention and can't get past that--it seems really incongruous, although I did vote for Gerald Ford.

    I think the binder principle is a really good one--"Makes the ephemera easier to store and look through." This is really vital to this process.

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    And the Republic convention thing is why you can' get rid of this stuff--there are these dimensions of ourselves revealed that our children will really cherish. And they are lost if we get rid of the things-- I guess it's memory itself I'm struggling with here.

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    Senior Member catherine's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tybee View Post

    Lots of good ideas here. I got hung up on the idea of you working for the 1976 Republican Convention and can't get past that--it seems really incongruous, although I did vote for Gerald Ford.
    Haha, I should have said "working AT the Republic Convention"--I was working as a production assistant for NBC. I also worked AT the Democratic National Convention which was held in Manhattan that year. Really wonderful experience, although so, so physically, mentally, and emotionally draining.
    "Do any human beings ever realize life while they live it--every, every minute?" Emily Webb, Our Town
    www.silententry.wordpress.com

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    How incredibly cool, that was such an interesting year with the Bicentennial celebrations.

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    Senior Member herbgeek's Avatar
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    I would do a little ceremony with the letters, acknowledge then burn them and let the negative memories go with the smoke (as best you can).

    My sister is the collector and is hanging onto everything. I have a few pictures mostly. I went through the photo albums because I am less sentimental. We don't need to keep Every Single Picture of Dad. A few funny/poignant ones that are significant are enough. It was interesting going through pictures of some of my parents' parties- us kids were forbidden from coming downstairs to the party room, other than saying initial hellos. So it was funny to see my parents under the influence and having a good time with friends, I never saw that side of them.

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    Quote Originally Posted by herbgeek View Post
    I would do a little ceremony with the letters, acknowledge then burn them and let the negative memories go with the smoke (as best you can).

    My sister is the collector and is hanging onto everything. I have a few pictures mostly. I went through the photo albums because I am less sentimental. We don't need to keep Every Single Picture of Dad. A few funny/poignant ones that are significant are enough. It was interesting going through pictures of some of my parents' parties- us kids were forbidden from coming downstairs to the party room, other than saying initial hellos. So it was funny to see my parents under the influence and having a good time with friends, I never saw that side of them.
    That is interesting. I guess you go through them and experience that and then you figure out what to do next. Do you make sure your children see this side of them, for example? Does it die with you?

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    Senior Member Rogar's Avatar
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    It sounds like you've made great progress. I saved a lot of things from my parents home that seemed legally important or having some value as memorabilia that a year or so later did not seem worthwhile at all to save. If storage isn't an issue I'd save whatever might seem important now and then come back later for a second sort when things are less immediate.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Rogar View Post
    It sounds like you've made great progress. I saved a lot of things from my parents home that seemed legally important or having some value as memorabilia that a year or so later did not seem worthwhile at all to save. If storage isn't an issue I'd save whatever might seem important now and then come back later for a second sort when things are less immediate.
    This makes so much sense. I can see this as on ongoing process as time goes by.

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