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Archive for the ‘Letgo Olympic Peninsula Washington State’ Category

I have been spending the last few years trying to sort through John’s, my and our girls’ stuff, our parents’ and ancestors’ things, and family items.

We are extremely fortunate to have many mementos that we have accumulated over the years, and items that go back many generations on all branches of the family tree. Some of the lessons that I’d like to pass along are the obvious ones, which bear repeating. Others you may not have thought about.

# 1 Label all your pictures, on the back, when you can! Don’t use pencil or ball point pens, if you can avoid it. Use thin point permanent markers. Test the ink on the edge of the back of the photo. There are photos that I have been shown over the years, and ones that turned up in boxes, and drawers. Many of the pictures are obvious who they are of…some are not at all. Memories vary in their accuracy also. Even photos that the subjects of seem obvious to one family member, are not so obvious to another. We’ve had good help from some extended family members in identifying subjects and places. But there are going to be “family” photos that we cannot identify at all. Don’t let it happen in your family!

# 2 Either make a list, or individually put notes, with special pieces of glassware, china, or tools. I followed John’s mother, Harriet, around the house one day, making notes on all sorts of pieces of glassware, furniture, etc. I had it listed by whom in the family it had belonged to, and what cabinet it was in or where it was in the house. But they moved. She moved twice. Some pieces I can match up. Some, I cannot.

When we do not know if a piece of pottery has been in the family for six generations, or if it was something that Harriet bought at a Yard Sale or Flea Market, we say: “It’s an Heirloom. It was my Grandmother’s”. John’s father’s mother used to put notes inside items. They would say a few lines about the history of the item. Often, the note would also say who she wanted to have the item when she was gone. This worked very well.

His aunt and uncle gave a lot of items to the people that they wanted to have them, while they were alive. That way they could tell them about the items, and see the people’s pleasure in receiving the gifts. Many items she would label. Elizabeth, our oldest daughter, and I tried to take pictures of items, and then label the picture. It does not always work. We still have a lot to identify. But we are making progress. If you have copies of these photos off the premises, it also helps if there is a fire, or theft.

#3 The greatest gift that you can give to your family is their past. Do not be embarrassed about how you look in a video; do not be afraid of how your spelling or sentences read. Have your family run a video camera at Christmas. Tell them about the quilt that Great Aunt Annie made at her church group. Show them the piece of hand blown glass that their Uncle Donald blew, and how he could make scientific hand-blown glass. Identify the plane that Grandpop used to hone the kitchen cabinets in the house he built. If the family isn’t home for the holidays, take pictures of your bowl for baking bread; the rolling pin that was your great great grandmother’s; the china cabinet that was rescued from your parents’ house fire. Don’t just say “Great Great Grandmother’s”. Say the name. And say if you mean your Great Great Grand, or your son’s, or your grand-daughter’s. It makes a difference!

Make copies of the photos that you take of the items. Label them. Send them. Don’t worry that they are not in a fancy scrapbook. Don’t wonder if anyone will care. Do it. Give your descendents your memories.

My grandfather used to say: “It’s all memories”. Don’t wait to share those precious memories and remembrances.

With all the flooding, fires, earthquake producing rubble, and other disasters occurring daily, this all seems naïve and rustic.  And many people won’t care about their past.  But, at some point most people would say that they wish that they had more memories from their elders.

John’s health has limited his mobility the past few years, and has restricted mine.  You would think that would have helped with downsizing, but it is not so.

We are on a motivated path to try to catch up with the memories and reduce the “stuff” before someone else has to try to figure it all out.  Britta has also gotten her household items out of storage, and is working on unpacking and editing her things.

Watch for downsizing notes and offers of items for sale…in SouthEast Tennessee and Northwest Washington State. Donations will be leaving the houses and memories will be added to the blogs.

Join us on the journeys and make sure that you work on saving the memories before its too late.

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