Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Every Item Has A Story by Patricia Forsythe


 

Last year, my sister Betty, and I decided it would be a good idea for us to move closer to one of my sons.  The main reason for this was that Betty was handicapped and I needed help caring for her, another reason was grandkids who are growing up way too fast.  Mostly, we wanted to be near family.

In preparing for the move, I began clearing out things, tossing or donating some items, boxing up others to take to the new place.  My realtor suggested making my house look as empty as possible so that potential buyers could imagine their own things in the rooms.  I did as she suggested and got rid of even more.

As it turned out, my sister became very ill so we had to take the house off the market and forget about the move.  After she passed away, I decided not to move for a while, if at all.  When I thought about unpacking the boxes in the shed, I realized I hadn’t missed any of that stuff, except for some of my books and shoes.

Recently, I heard about a woman who helps people deal with all their belongings by telling them to only keep things that spark joy when they use them or wear them.  I think that’s a great idea, although I have a hard time getting excited about a bottle of toilet bowl cleaner, but maybe that’s not what she meant.

Anyway, I’ve decided that what I want to do is keep things in my home that have a story attached to them.  As I was tearfully going through my sister’s clothing and other belongings, I came across several things that I will cherish, including a basket that had been made by our uncle’s wife, our Aunt Hattie, who was Choctaw.  She gave the basket to Betty many years ago, and looking at it made me think of Hattie and how talented she was – and the remarkable restraint she showed in dealing with my uncle, who is best described as a challenging husband.  I’m going to put that basket in a place of honor and get rid of something that doesn’t have a family connection, or spark a happy memory.  Some of these memorable items will probably turn up in my future books.

How about you?  What do you keep that has a story attached?
 
Patricia Forsythe's next Harlequin Heartwarming, At Odds With The Midwife, will be available in October, 2015.

31 comments:

  1. So sorry to hear of your sister's passing.
    That's a great looking basket!! I have a few things that I've kept that have a story attached. I have a bag full of my daughter's shoes from infant to toddler. Every now and then I take them out and look at them and wonder where the time has gone. She's 26 now. I also kept the first bible that I studied from. It's pocket-sized and has all sorts of notations and highlights. Some of the pages are coming out and the print is almost too small for me to read now, but it changed my life more than anything else ever has and whenever I see it I remember that. So although I have a newer one now, I won't part with that first one.

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    1. Baby shoes must bring back such sweet memories. I've kept hardly anything from my children's childhoods. And your first Bible must bring back not only memories, but comfort, as well.

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  2. I am so very sorry to hear that your sister passed away, Patricia. My condolences to you and your family.

    When we sold our cottage last year, the purchasers liked it so much exactly the way it was that they wanted to include furniture, paintings, indoor plants, bedding/linens, towels...you name it, in the transaction. That was good for me for two reasons. First, I loved the cottage and it meant a lot to me that they did, too, just the way it was. Secondly, we didn't have any use for the contents of the cottage, because we didn't have any place to put it. I did, however, do a careful walk through, and specifically excluded from the transaction the items that meant the most to me. In other words, I kept the things that gave me the greatest joy, and let go of everything else to people who would appreciate them as much as we did!

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    1. That's a good idea, to pass things on, or leave them in place for someone else to enjoy.

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  3. I try to follow the advice that you choose one item that best reminds you of a particular person, rather than keeping every memento. I have a painting of a lighthouse that my Grammy painted just for me, shortly before she died. The story behind that is that she always painted a picture with an eagle when the boys got their Eagle Scout awards. Other than that, she always said that she'd only paint us a painting as a wedding gift. Well, I guess she finally realized that I was not going to get married (at least before she died), and she finally relented and told me to choose a photo, and she'd paint it for me. When I went down there for her funeral, there it was, waiting for me. Every time I look at it, I remember that even though she had such a big family (I have over 20 first cousins alone, not counting spouses), I was important to her.

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    1. Oh, how sweet. That brings tears to my eyes. You'll always have that painting in memory of her.

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  4. My sympathies on losing your sister, Patricia. I keep a brass school bell that belonged to my grandmother. She was a schoolteacher and attended college at a time when not many women did.

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    1. Oh my goodness! My mother was a teacher, too, as was I. I've got a brass bell of hers, though I don't think it was one she used when she taught in rural Oklahoma.

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  5. I'm so sorry about your sister. She was lucky to have you in her life.

    We live in an apartment, so we go through things and toss them out on a regular basis. Besides the obvious photos and baby mementos, I have some dishes I refuse to part with, even though they are seldom used: a salad bowl my parents got as a wedding present, a cast iron tea pot that I just love, and a deviled egg dish my aunt gave me. I never make deviled eggs. I have zero use for it, but I just can't throw it out. Everything else, though, has a life span! ;)

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    1. This made me smile. There are some things that have no purpose except to hold a place in our hearts.

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  6. I'm sorry about your sister, Patricia. I miss mine every day. I have her rosary, though, along with both my parents' rosaries hanging on a crucifix in my office. I have my mother-in-law's wedding ring that I wear under mine because she and my FIL, who was gone before I met my husband, have a lost story as dear to me as ours. Ron's father was an artist, so his work and Ron's are all over the house. Your basket is beautiful - and there's something about the fact that a treasure is woven that helps you realize all that love and good thoughts that went into it.

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    1. Make that a love story, not a lost story.

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    2. Wonderful mementoes since they were things that were important to your loved ones.

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  7. Oh, Patty! You have no idea how relevant and wonderful your post was for me! After 3 years of renting, we are finally purchasing another home, so we're getting ready to move. My husband swears we have to move every few years so he can force me to get rid of all the junk I've collected. I admit it, I was a hoarder in the past, although I'm getting much better at it. Inevitably, hubby and I end up arguing over things he wants to get rid of and I insist on keeping...sometimes than for no better reason than I might need it someday. Keep the things that spark joy!!! That will be my mantra as I make this move!

    And I'm really sorry about your sister. I know it was a difficult time for you.

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    1. Good luck, Leanne. This is such a wonderful time for you. I'm discovering that keeping only the most beloved things makes you feel happier and lighter as you move into your new home.

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  8. When I started my divorce, my soon to be ex wouldn’t let me back in our house to get my things. At first I was peeved, mostly at him because I wanted what belonged to me. But I was tired of constantly fighting and didn’t pursue it. Besides, the important things I had already placed in storage. I understand what you mean about keeping those things that are really dear. I don’t miss what was left behind. Everything in my apartment has warm memories and none of them remind me of him.

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    1. Although I didn't need to follow through with your generous offer of a place to stay during that horrific time, it made me realize the importance of friendships. Thank you.

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  9. I'm hanging my head in shame.
    I have a path to get to my desk in my office.
    I still have the Valentines I received in grade school.
    I still have the first piece of gum a boy gave me.
    I did, however, throw out the ketchup bottle from my wedding banquet last year.

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    1. Tough call, Pam. Those items could be collectors items someday

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  10. So sorry about your sister. I don't believe we are ever prepared to give up a loved one. As I look around my living area I see whatnots from the thirties and a pitcher from the 40s, things friends have given me that I've kept. I'm preparing to go through my closet and toss what I haven't worn in two years. But I really do have a mindset that one day I might need what should be tossed. :-)

    But I'm not as bad as Pamela!

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  11. I'm so sorry to hear about the passing of your sister, Patricia. I have a lot of cards and letter from my grandmother that I can't part with. Being a card and letter writer myself, it's even more important for me to hang on to these treasures.
    Oh my, Pam still has the first piece of gum a boy gave her! LOL!

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  12. What a beautiful basket, on all levels. So sorry about your sister's passing.

    I have my grandmother's candy dish. My cousin and I would sneak into her formal parlor and swipe the mints from it. I also have a lovely Christmas cup and saucer that belonged to a dear friend, and I think of her when I get it out each year. Many Christmas ornaments have stories attached, and I think of them each year as they go on the tree.

    Items that spark joy -- I love that concept. Thanks for sharing.

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  13. I have that woman's book, Patricia! Am still not de-cluttered, though. Favorite mementoes: a pair of side tables of my parents that are now night stands; a set of antique cups that belonged to my husband's great grandmother (I drink coffee from one every morning); and some of my children's baby clothes. Not in great shape but can't get rid of them. Love your basket! I'm sorry about your sister.

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  19. I love this post. I have my grandmother's slate from when she was in grammar school--she was born in 1888. "Myrtle May McKissick" is etched in the slate. It makes me happy to look at it.

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    1. That's so cool Liz Flaherty.

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    2. Amazing to have something so personal.

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