Monday, July 6, 2009

Cleaning day

My son moved out, the real one, the official one, the not living at home for sure anymore one. But his spirit, that is to say his STUFF lives on. He took what he "needed," although I personally think he needs more than he believes he does. He doesn't want to be anchored to things; I get that. However, he doesn't seem to mind anchoring us to his things, namely the items that he left here.

When your children move out for the first time, they take their things, and leave the memories. That's one of a parent's functions, I suppose, to be the repository of memory. But so much memory is locked up in stuff. Is the hideous peanut-shaped jar junk, or is it a precious childhood artifact? If I get rid of the admittedly brilliant 6th grade spanish class poster, will someone regret it? There are reams and reams of drawings; I have no idea what to do with them.

It's not so easy moving a child on. Memories seem ephemeral, but they attach themselves. They are sticky, and their things have weight.


dimsum said...

When I visited the JFK Library travelling exhibit, I think I saw there a letter that he had written at some age in puberty asking his father (a proposal, actually) for a raise in his allowance. So his father and then others thereafter must have thought, "some day this kid will be famous," and stored that scrap of paper. Or did they just forget to throw it out? That's your dilemma. I have no standing to advise.

garden girl said...

Hi Xan, thanks for visiting my blog. I'm amazed at people such as yourself keeping up with several blogs!

I've been enjoying checking out yours. You're a wonderful, introspective writer and I feel enriched having gone through quite a few of your posts.

I have three girls, and got large plastic bins that I loaded up with their artwork and random keepsakes left behind that they may one day wish they'd kept.

Every parent has their own way of dealing with the remnants their grown children left behind - there are pieces of my kids in desk drawers here - childhood drawings, trinkets, poems, birthday and Mother's Day cards, little pieces of them I've kept for myself, and some I hold for them in case they ever wish they'd kept them.

To me much of this stuff is like their baby pictures - I see the adults they've become in those photos, poems, and notes they wrote in the cards I've kept. Each little thing I hold onto holds a memory. My family are savers - my grandparents saved the letters we wrote to them when we were kids. When I helped my mom clean out their home after my grandmother's death, we found those letters and distributed them to the family members who wrote them (those who were still living.) Mine read like a diary of most of my life, and I'm so grateful to have them. Those of our departed relatives are rich with family history that helps connect us, one generation to the next, and will one day give my grandchildren a sense of who they came from.

Anyway, long comment, but I guess my point is it doesn't hurt to hold onto some of the stuff - sometimes it holds more value with the passage of time. I don't regret the space I hold in my house or my heart for family history in some of the bits and pieces my family and I have preserved.