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The Things We Keep

October 11, 2016
by Anesa McGregor , Emmetsburg News

As with most everyone, when my Mom passed away five years ago, the main things were in a will, but she had specific items that she wanted me to have and certain things that she wanted my brother to have. Once we got that all taken care of and he looked at some other items, the rest was mine. I didn't have the heart to move into the house right away, so I rented it out. The problem with this was, I had to clean everything that was Mom's out of the house.

Not having the space to put it all, I rented a storage unit and with my brother's help we filled a large unit with everything in the ranch style house and a full basement. I didn't pay any attention to what we took to the storage unit. I wasn't ready to sort through the things that were important enough to or had some meaning for Mom. So boxes and bags were stacked, sometimes not that neatly, waiting the day that I was ready to go through it all.

I finally moved back into the house and after having work done the basement after the flood of 2014, I was ready and felt confident to bring her things back home. Was I in for a treat.

Mom loved antiques and collected anything from Depression glass to crocks to furniture and everything in between. She also collected owls for a time and she loved bird figurines. Wicker baskets were a thing for a while and there are more artificial flower arrangements than in a greenhouse. All this and she still had more knick-knacks than I ever remember and Christmas decorations. Then there were the kitchen items. I bet there were five bags of just Tupperware and I don't know what most of it was used for.

Bedding, clothing and even my bother's beer can collection. But best of all was the papers. Bank papers, tax papers, insurance papers, you name it she kept it. Some were dated prior to my father passing away and that was in 1980.

I kept looking up and asking her why the whole time I was there one day. I'm sure she had her reasons for keeping all this stuff and I think one of her main reasons was to get even with me for all the things I did growing up. I couldn't remember bringing all of this to the storage unit from the house and I can't figure out where she kept it all. Her house was clean and everything had its place. There is simply too much, in my mind, to fit back into the house.

I realized that the basement was finished and on one side of the wall running down the middle there were three shelf's about 10 feet long. She also had a fruit room that had four shelves plus another four shelves on another wall. There was room under the stairs to store things and upstairs, there were large closets in all three bedrooms. But I still don't know how she got it all to fit.

Anyway, after getting the big items out and home, I went back to work on the boxes. To my surprise, I guess by this time it really wasn't much of a surprise, I found totes of every toy and book my son ever had from the time he was born. I get that. Most Grandparents keep the grandchildren's toys. You never know when they may become useful again in the future.

The biggest amazement came in the form of shoeboxes, sacks, boxes and laundry baskets full of all the papers I mentioned before. She really enjoyed "Birds and Blooms," "The Iowan," "Country Woman" and "Country Living" magazines and had subscriptions for each one. She also kept every issue she got. Plus she kept issues of "Woman's Day" and "Better Homes and Garden" magazines that she purchased.

I couldn't believe what I was seeing. There was enough paper to fill the back of my brother's Ford Ranger pickup. Again, I would look up and say "What were you thinking?" or "Are you crazy?" I loved my Mom very much, but the purpose behind this collection was over my head. But I was determined these things were going to the farm to be burnt and not back to the house.

I started laughing at myself because this whole time I'm thinking that Mom was losing her mind and I'm the one who boxed it up and paid to store it for the last five years. At least when she had the stuff at the house she wasn't paying anything extra to keep it. I must be as crazy as she was.

All this got me to thinking about the things that I was keeping because of sentimental reasons or just because. You know, there is a lot of stuff I have kept over the years and I really have no idea why. Even though I enjoy picking on my only son, I think I will go through my personal collection of stuff and get rid of most of it. I don't want him looking at the sky someday and asking my "Why?" and "Were you crazy?"



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