Make wisdom your provision for the journey from youth to old age, for it is a more certain support than all other possessions. Bias
I wanted to investigate the whole “pack rat” thing I’m accused of… Yes, I like to keep stuff that I find to be meaningful. I’ve also found that it’s not always appropriate to throw out stuff you haven’t touched in a year. Look, I threw out my funnel and then I had to borrow my sister’s when I needed to pour the limoncello I was making in a bigger bottle.
midden is a fancy name for a pile of trash, often left by pack rats. Pack rats leave middens near their nests, which may be continuously occupied for hundreds, or even thousands, of years. Each layer of trash contains twigs, seeds, animal bones and other material, which is cemented together by urine. Over time, the midden becomes a treasure trove of information for plant ecologists, climate change scientists and others who want to learn about past climatic conditions and vegetation patterns dating back as far as 25,000 years.
So that led me to thinking about things like treasure troves and scientists and others who want to learn about past stuff.
I never realized my mom was a bit of a pack rat until we had to clean out the kitchen before my dad moved. A lot of stuff got tossed but I managed to save a couple of Mom’s really, really old cookbooks… and tucked in the pages of one of those cookbooks was a letter from my Nana to my Mom with directions to make homemade pizza. Darn it, if Nanny didn’t write it just the way she would have spoken in it if she were sitting right there in front of Mom. To me, it is such a treasure.
And then there was the black plastic trash bag. My friend, Julie, might remember a creative writing assignment she gave once to a writer’s group and I submitted this story based on a real event. I wasn’t in the group, I just submitted a story and I didn’t follow the directions, but everyone said the story was good. It really was another one of those fact is stranger than fiction – or sadder than fiction.
We were helping my Dad clean the basement and I opened up a black trashbag only to find a brown paper bag filled with old greeting cards and other assorted mementos. My mom had saved them. There were cards that celebrated my parents’ engagement, wedding shower, and wedding. And then there were cards for her baby shower and then cards that were sent for the birth of their children (the most of them were from when I was born – I was the oldest so it just figures, huh?)
There was a letter from the hotel, where they spent the first night of their honeymoon, quoting the price for the stay. There was a matchbook from the hotel where they stayed in Bermuda – the same hotel where I was conceived, mind you!
Oh and the point of all this is that my dad was going to throw it out. I guess in his mind, Mom was dead, his marriage was over and all of this was now trash. Maybe it was just too painful for him to look at anymore. Maybe it was really trash. I saved it all. I gave the cards to my brothers. I have the rest of the stuff.
I also have a coat that my grandfather made me when I was like 5 years old… and my First Communion dress that was made by a great aunt.
And yes, I have shoeboxes filled with ticket stubs and programs from concerts and shows and museums. And cards that were pretty cool with neat sentiments. And race numbers from when I ran in 5ks and other road races. And heavens, I don’t know what else. I think it is time to go through those boxes again.
We’re going to be moving sometime in the next year. I dread going through all the stuff but it has got to be done. I know there are things I will sell and things I will trash – but those shoeboxes and those cookbooks and that bag of cards and that dress and coat – they’re keepers.