Putting Away Pieces of My Life

Assimilate: 1 take in (information, ideas, or culture) and understand fully; 2 cause (something) to resemble; liken.

Since the first of June I’ve been trying to assimilate the fifteen boxes of “stuff” (with a capital S!) that I hauled home from Minnesota into my present-day life — and decor. Truthfully, I don’t “understand fully” how such polar opposites (housekeeping and memorabilia-wise) could evolve from the same household. But, it is what it is.

Basically, I’m stymied as to how to “liken” 60 years’ worth of someone else’s worldly goods into my home without losing my identity.

Apparently Mom was (is) a sentimentalist. Keeper of every greeting card she was ever given — with family mementos stashed between. (Trust me, I thumbed through thousands of ’em.) Appliance manuals, dishes, and clothing dating back to 1955 and beyond. Bank statements and tax returns, too.

I gave Grandpa’s 1940’s income tax paperwork and “corn loan papers” to my Mom’s cousin and his wife — farmers and historians, to boot. (Hallelujah.) It wasn’t just Mom’s stuff I dealt with, it was my grandparents’, two uncles’, my Dad’s, my Sister’s, and my brother’s. Overwhelming, to say the least.

Part of the difficulty in assimilating another person’s stuff into your life (and home) is that you don’t have the same frame of reference or memories they did. What was once special to Mom isn’t necessarily pertinent to me.

Here’s some of the what I brought home. A 10th (100th?) of what awaits for me to “sort” next summer. Yay for storage units! (Out of sight, out of mind?)

Stuff close up

The gravy bowl and recipe box I “remember” (fondly) because I used them.

The rest, not so much.

Here’s what else I “assimilated.” The odd ducks on my bookshelves.


The Brownie cameras were my Grandma’s and Uncle’s. (The replica next to ’em was a gift from my daughter, xo.) Y’all know how much I love photography — even if my photos don’t always prove it. :) The Haviland demitasse cup was my piano teacher’s, or at least I “assume” it was. (She favored such things.) Without stories or memories attached — or passed down — they’re just “pretty things.” (Taking up shelf space, I might add.)

Sadly, there’s a continental divide between what I know (or have been “told”) re: the history surrounding most of these treasures. Mom’s memory ain’t what it used to be (mine isn’t either) and my past is disappearing by the day.

Was the dainty china cup a gift or a family heirloom? (I’m keepin’ it, even if it doesn’t fit my fingers!) The goblet in the corner was a reincarnation of the original Big Daddy , courtesy of my pal Tammy, xo. The “sculpture” (back right) was my interpretation of art after I scrounged whatever I could amidst the rubble of our front yard after the fire — part molten glass from our former living room windows, part melted aluminum hub caps from TMOFW’s “toasted” Ford truck. (I thought it looked kinda like a “wave” — a funky, familiar, relevant piece of “us” as perceived by me.) Art is in the eye of the beholder. Memorabilia, too.

Then there are books. (Lots and lots of books.) Currently I’m sorting through (and culling) Dad’s Zane Grey “collector Westerns” and my Sis’s Time-Life gardening and cookbook series. Miscellaneous reference volumes (most of which I’m keeping) and “how-to’s” for writers (all of which I’m keeping!)

So many tomes, so little time.

Or shelf space.

Tom n Me

However, it hasn’t all been work and no play. There’s been fun stuff, too (with a capital F! ;), including this “photo booth” snapshot (remember those?) taken a few months ago during one of my son’s & my outings with some of his heartfelt sentiments. I’m compelled to keep these forever, xo.

BTW I’m heading out to visit my daughter this week (off the grid, unless she posts FB photos, lol.) Be prepared! And, my son is driving down to visit me next week. Stay tuned.

Assimilate what you can however you can. And remember…


One box. One shelf. One memory at a time.

Determine what’s important for you to keep.

Enjoying creating “present day perfect” from past tense,

~ Kim

6 thoughts on “Putting Away Pieces of My Life

  1. I wanted a few things from my mom and dad: dad’s shoe polish kit, mom’s cranberry candy jar, dad’s army hat, mom’s hope chest. I got the cranberry candy jar and the piano–a REALLY nice piano. The rest went to my brother and sister. I started giving things I didn’t need/want to the local mission about 5 years ago. My sister says, “I don’t want any more dust collectors.” My parents cleaned out all of their stuff about the same time I did and sold it or gave it to the Good Will.They didn’t have stuff from their parents except a few things. I won’t have a pile to go through and decide on when my parents move out of their home. P.S. I also got my grandma’s waffle iron. It is in my kitchen.
    Sorry to hear your mom is in poor health.

  2. Kim, such a thought provoking post… I am in agreement with Alice’s comment…. my kids are the same, particularly my daughter, who is already decluttering at the age of 30… she told me she is not looking forward to cleaning out my Stuff after I go… and in amongst my things, are things that my parents treasured too. I think I need to have another clear out sometime soon xxxx

  3. Kim~I so so so identify w/this post. We’re all in that stage of our lives. It’s such mixed emotions. I love what you said about the ‘receivers’ of the ‘stuff’ not having the same memories and attachments to it. I find that already w/my kids. They really don’t want ‘stuff’. They simplify and declutter now, unlike we did at that age. I mean, we saved about everything thanks to our parents who ‘trained’ us. Yes, it was the ‘Great Generation’ and their mindset was so different from us Boomers. Now, our GenX & Millennial kids and grands have theirs. I’m working hard to respect and understand. Decluttering is on my to do list everyday now. You always have the strike to the heart posts. Love it and you xoxo ~ally

    • Ally, your comment had my head noddin’ in agreement. Beauty and/or memorabilia is in the eye of the beholder. (Still tryin’ to “absorb the wonder” and not put my kids thru the same thing “someday!”) Cullin’ as we speak…

    • Shirley, there’s a lot more “nostalgia” in a storage unit in Minnesota. :) My son is bringing another load with him when he visits! Looking forward to being done sorting soon. xo

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