Letting Go

I have a box in my basement marked “Ann’s keepsakes,” filled with things that are special to me.  Anyone else would probably consider it a box full of worthless odds and ends, and wonder why in the world I’m saving it.  The battered stuffed pony,  the cheap ring with an artificial emerald, the red dog collar,  the purple lace ribbon and all the rest of the contents have no real value at all.  But to me, every single item in that box is special.

Ann's photo 1The stuffed pony was my favorite childhood toy and almost constant companion…it’s no wonder he looks so well-worn.  The “emerald” ring was a graduation gift from my grandmother, passed on to me because we both had May birthdays.  The dog collar belonged to Genny, the first dog who was my very own and not a family pet.  And the ribbon was a gift from a good friend’s mother, who made it to cheer me up after I came in last place in my heat during a Junior High track meet.  (Lots of people have ribbons for winning races, but I bet I’m the only one who has a last place ribbon.)

I think it’s normal to hang onto to the things we treasure and to the people we love.  We want to keep what, and who, we value in our lives.  But the problem is that there is so much that we can’t hang on to, no matter how hard we try.

One of my very first “blogging friends” was a woman from Australia, who wrote a great  blog about the trials and joys of farming there.  She read every one of my posts and never failed to leave an encouraging comment.  But one day she blogged about an upcoming surgery, and that was the last I ever heard of her.  I still have no idea if she simply dropped out of the blogging world, or if the surgery went horribly wrong.  And I doubt very much that I will ever know.

Life is full of losses, both large and small.  Favorite restaurants close, neighborhood friends move away, treasured family traditions come to an end.  And if you’re like me, you sometimes try a bit too hard to hang on to what is slipping away or even already gone.  It’s hard to lose the things and people we value, but sometimes don’t have much choice.

And so I keep my little box of keepsakes, stored away on my basement shelf.  I don’t get it out very often, as most days  I’m too busy dealing with the stuff that is happening in my life right here and now.  But every once in a while I add something to it, when I find myself facing yet another loss and want to save a little something to remind myself of a gift I once had.

In a way, I suppose, that’s the real purpose of my keepsakes.  They represent the good memories that are mine forever, even when the actual people and things are gone.  The influence of the past has helped shape who I am now, which means that those memories are a very real part of me and always will be.  And knowing that makes it just a little bit easier when the time comes to “let go.”

91 thoughts on “Letting Go

  1. Ann, I am the same way. Sometimes I think I am way too sentimental. Not sure why I am. So, like you, I have keepsakes, albeit scattered in several boxes, far from organized. You hit it on the head of the nail. Tangible reminders of pieces of you and where you’ve been. Funny how something small laying in a box can flood the mind with scenes from days gone by.
    Usually a Kleenex box is ready to go next to my keepsake box. Loved the pic. Hugs from here.

    Liked by 5 people

    • Thank you! Normally, I’m not a “saver” but I have my keepsakes and I have my photos, and nothing could induce me to part with them. They are reminders of special people and special times in my life that now exist only in my memory. But they were a gift, and I don’t ever want to forget that! PS: I keep a box of Kleenex handy when I go through mine, too!

      Liked by 2 people

  2. You have to wonder that with things like The WayBack Machine, somethings will never truly go away.

    For eight years, I posted on a website called Gather.com. It was like a cross between WordPress and Facebook but is no more. I had lots of friends there, some have come over here, a few died but most just vanished.

    With The WayBack Machine, I can revisit those days from time to time. It is like watching an old familiar movie.

    Liked by 4 people

    • I know! The hard thing about internet friends is that they can simply disappear, and we never know if they are okay or not. I really wish I could know that my old blogging friend was alright, but I have no way of doing that. And thanks for the link to the WayBack Machine, I’ll check that out!!!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. What a beautiful, heartfelt post. This is now one of my favorites. I can certainly relate. I have a very deep desk drawer in my home office. In it, years ago, I added a file that I called, “memories.” Whenever there was a local newspaper article about someone in my family, a playbill from a high school performance that included my daughter, a report my son received for doing something positive in school, etc., etc., I plopped it in that file. I have never actually looked at everything in it, though I keep adding to it. It’s
    really stuffed now. Maybe one day, if I make it to age 100, I’ll look inside the file and smile.

    Liked by 5 people

    • Oh, thank you for saying that! I’m glad you have that memory file. I’m not usually a saver, so when I had kids I had a real problem deciding what to do with all the stuff they made and brought home from school. The answer was exactly what you did: folders with their names on it, and the good stuff went in there. I do look through them from time to time, and it is so fun! The same way with the keepsake box from my own past….I add to it now and then, and look through it now and then, and am so very glad I have it!

      Liked by 2 people

    • Isn’t that fun? I saved some of my favorite childhood dolls, and let my own daughter play with them when she was young. I loved seeing them being used again….so glad your wife and Caeden are doing the same thing!
      PS: Also, thank you for taking the time to let me know you were okay when you took a brief break from blogging. I really wish I knew that my old friend from Australia was doing well!

      Liked by 1 person

    • I believe it does matter. And I think that some day, when we are truly old, we will enjoy looking through those boxes and files filled with our special memories. And who knows? Maybe when we’re gone, they will be a comfort to our friends and family.

      Liked by 2 people

  4. There are those photos we can never replace that are dear to us along with journals. I quiver wondering the reaction of my grandchildren or kin reading them as in a time capsule years from now or perhaps as a history moment as times continue to change for each generation. Reliving my mom’s life through her journals of moving to a farm house in the Catskills after growing up in New York City is very entertaining. I understand her angst and her happiness often at the silliest moments.

    Liked by 3 people

    • You are so lucky to have your mom’s journals! My dad kept journals in the later years of his life, although he didn’t write much personal in them. Still, I have several of them and value them. And we can only hope that our kids will value our memories, too!

      Liked by 1 person

      • I know. My stepson is an executive with a car company and my stepdaughter is having another child…right now, they are very busy living life albeit one with trips to Germany and the other with hard core reality but perhaps their children will wonder one day. Thanks for answering!

        Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you! I’m sure that most of the things I have saved will end up in the garbage after I’m gone, but I hope that my family will recognize the meaning in some of them and keep them. Either way, they are meaningful to me and I’m so glad that I’ve kept them!

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  5. Poignant, heartwarming post Ann and one I can fully relate to. We all have things that we hold on to, cherished momentos that remind us of a different time. And with kids growing up I find that “box” grows even larger and fills with even more memories. I guess the most important ones are the non tangible ones we make daily. Lovely read.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh, yes, when I had kids I created two more files (and even a box) to store stuff from them. They may or may not want it some day, but meanwhile, they are memories that I cherish. And you’re right, the value isn’t in the things themselves, it’s in the memories that they invoke. Those memories are part of us, and they are priceless!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I had a whole year of loss once and all the rest seems like gravy. In 2003 /2004 my mother died, my five-year-old grandson died, we had to sell the big house where we had raised our family, my husband went to work for a firm in Santiago, Chile, and I ended up in an apartment alone for the first time in my life. I burned that calendar.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. this touches my heart on so many levels – your childhood memories, your grandma, a blogger friend who you will never know what happened to, and all the things that may you the special you you are Ann! ❤

    Liked by 2 people

  8. I too have some “keepsakes” that are not valuable but represent memories. They are touchstones that allow me to connect the memory with the present in a tangible way. Helps to jog the memory as there is a fading over time. The things in my box help to bring everything back into focus!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Exactly! As we age, some of our memories fade. And that is where our keepsakes come in: they remind us of the happy times in our lives, and of the people we loved and lost. Whenever I am down, those memories always cheer me up!

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  9. I had to read it twice, because the first time was so emotional for me. I can relate to this in so many ways. I also have a hard time to let go, and always hope that things (in relationship especially) will get better. However, reality has it’s own course. And I noticed, that sometimes better things/people come in, when you truly letting go.

    Liked by 4 people

    • I’m so glad this spoke to you, Svet! And also that you heard the underlying message: sometimes we have to move on and let go, but we will always have our memories. And ultimately, that is what life is all about!

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Lovely post Ann. It reminded me of those keepsake boxes we got in high school to store our cherished belongings. My husband is better at saving things than I am. I’m always fascinated when I see what he’s saved, including the kids’ baby teeth.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I think we all just save what is special to us, and that’s probably something different for each one. As for your husband keeping the baby teeth, I didn’t mention it in the blog, but I do have one my son’s baby teeth, along with the note he wrote for the tooth fairy. AND in my keepsakes box, I have one of the wisdom teeth I had removed. (I don’t think they give them to people any more, but years ago, apparently they did.) Honestly, the main reason I saved it was you can see a bit of bone between the roots that they had to break in order to get the tooth out. It helps me to remember to be brave when I go to the dentist’s office…..if I can get through that, I can get through anything!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Wow, I’m impressed you kept your wisdom tooth Ann. I had all four removed at once and they were impacted, so it was quite an ordeal. I’m not sure I would really want to be reminded of it. I love the tooth fairy notes, though I must admit my husband was the tooth fairy in our house. I always forgot!

        Liked by 1 person

  11. It’s so relevant! Even I have a drawer of random memorabilia which I go through once in a while. All those tiny things that may seem useless to others are actually full of memories for me, and yes going through always makes me feel good and smile at my past but look forward to the future too. 😊

    Liked by 1 person

    • Exactly! I sometimes thing that saving keepsakes from our pasts actually helps us “let go” of it a little bit, because we know those memories will always be in our hearts. And then we are free to look to the future, and all the new things that are waiting for us there!

      Liked by 1 person

  12. Ann,
    This really was a great way to show how we (you) connect to our past and our special moments. I have moved all over the world and nearly 30 times. I have items that are so special that sometimes when I find them make me cry tears of joy or sadness as I remember the person or moment I received them. One is a crystal eagle given to me by one of my soldiers when I left Germany. The kindness and appreciation for my leadership touched me deeply and it has always had a special place in my house, but each time I move I carefully open the box to wonder if this could have been the last trip. I think I am always afraid that if it is destroyed the kind words that came with this gift will also disappear.
    As for your blog friend, I have thought deeply about such a thing since my accident. It could be a blog (maybe not on my kayak site) How do we notify our digital friends in case of death or some other debilitating event? We have friends here, we connect here, we laugh and cry here but then just disappear without a trace? It doesn’t seem right.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I know! Now that you mention it, it does seem like a good idea to have a plan for our blog and blogging friends, just in case. I think I will ask my husband and my kids to promise to post a notice if I should die suddenly on my blog (or even just be hurt enough that I can’t log onto Word Press for quite a while.) Sounds morbid, but it’s better than people wondering what happened, and why I’m not visiting their blogs anymore. I really wish I had a way of knowing that my blogging friend is okay!

      Liked by 1 person

      • It is not morbid, it is good planning. Being former military we always had to have a will, a plan for our family and friends just in case. People forget, as I did this Spring the digital piece of that equation. Draft a message and then have someone post it if anything happens.

        Liked by 1 person

  13. I also have boxes that I hope I can get down to one box. I have been thinking a lot about how one’s life is reduced to a box in the end. I am now the keeper of my ancestors’ boxes filled with letters and memories over a hundred years old. Those that came before me are thought of every time I look through their box. Hopefully, someone will take the time to look in my box in the future.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I know what you mean! I treasure the letters I have from my father and grandfather, since they are both gone. My grandmother didn’t write any letters, but I do have her ring, a necklace and lots of photos. Still, her actual words would mean so much!

      Liked by 1 person

  14. Letting go is so hard. I struggle with it constantly, sometimes it’s friendships gone bad, but I still hold on. I too have a box of random things, ticket stubs from concerts, museums. Even though we don’t look at it often, it’s a reminder of happy times.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yes, those boxes remind us of the many gifts we have had in life. We don’t keep stuff from that bad times, because we don’t want to be reminded of those, and rightly so. But letting go can still be hard, especially relationships. Like you, I sometimes insist on keeping a friendship going long after I should have let it go.

      Liked by 1 person

  15. I absolutely love what you share and write more and more with each post. This one makes me feel better about all of my boxes. I have learned that because of something I have kept it brings back memories that I had forgotten I even owned. Blessings are in those boxes.

    Again ~ thank you.

    Liked by 2 people

  16. I also have a keepsake box… or two. One small box has some of my baby things and letters I wrote to my parents while in college (among other things) that I just can’t let go of. Since we don’t have children, I’m sure these will end up in a dumpster when I’m gone – but I guess I’ll be beyond caring at that point 🙂 Try as I might to reduce “stuff,” some will remain because it’s meaningful to me. I’ve had a few blogging friends disappear too which has left me wondering how they are. I love your idea about posting a notice.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, I am definitely going to ask my relatives to post a notice! And I don’t think you should worry too much about reducing your stuff. If it is meaningful to you, then keep it. (And believe me, I am about as opposite of a hoarder as it is possible to be!) The memories they invoke are precious, and even though you don’t have children, someone may want them when you are gone. If not, hey, at least they served a purpose while you were here…and that is all that counts!

      Liked by 1 person

  17. I understand. I have a bag full of cards that I’ve kept for over ten years now. It’s really supportive to see who wished you well on a birthday way back when and what they had to say. Speaking of…when’s your bday? Mine is the 23rd of May.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, I keep some old cards and letters too! Especially the cards we got for our wedding, and the cards we got when our children were born. When my grandparents died, I also got a scrapbook they kept of their own cards, and that is such a gift. It does help to remember who reached out to us on our special days! Also, my birthday is May 2. My grandmother was May 30, which is why I got the ring. It wasn’t worth much financially, but it meant the world to me. Her father gave it to her when she graduated high school, and she gave it to me the Christmas before I graduated. And I’m so glad she did, because she died a month before my graduation, and her funeral was actually on my birthday. But I wore that ring on my graduation day, and it meant that a little bit of her was still with me……

      Liked by 1 person

  18. I too have such a box stashed away in the basement. I wonder, if I dug it out and looked at the memories within, how many of them would be as meaningful as when they entered the box? Little snippets of life, maybe not significant to many, but part of our identity.

    Liked by 2 people

  19. This post brings up a lot of feelings. Stuff and nemories ~ sentimental things that evoke feelings and can take you back to a moment in childhood. I still have my first teddy bear … why a 61 year old woman has shlepped a ragged, worn teddy bear that has most of the stuffing coming out, across the world to Nicaragua and Sri Lanka I have no idea. But the teddy bear insists on going with me!

    Peta

    Liked by 1 person

    • I think that teddy bear is very wise…. We all need a little reminder of our good memories, no matter how much we wander! Thanks for the comment, Peta, and for sharing your travels with the rest of us through your blog!

      Like

  20. You just said everything I think and believe. I have my box of things and I will continue to hold onto it, even when we downsize. Seeing the things that represent feelings and memories makes me feel good about my place in life. Your post came at just the right time!

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  21. This is the first thing I read here and I absolutely love it! I agree with what you have said. I might as well be guilty of keeping cards and random objects that mean the world to me but be worthless to someone. As I am emotionally attatched to it and have memory connected to it.

    Liked by 1 person

  22. In November each year, for 10 years now, there’s been an added ritual to Christmas preparations. As we clean the house and ready it for Christmas, my children inevitably gather at a special photo album cabinet. Leading very busy lives, it’s this one time in a year that we have some space to sit down and look through old photos. It’s a sweet and tender hour. Until we come to that one album. The one that holds memories of a life we have lost, which we can never have again, in its original form. I always thought the passing years would make it easier to go turn those laminated pages, but I was wrong. It’s a struggle every year to return to those memories and look at the dates beneath each photo. To ache all over again that we had been so happy then, not knowing what was ahead. Every year in November, I tell myself I won’t cry but the tears come and they come hard.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m so very sorry for your loss! I can’t even imagine how hard that must be, and how deeply you feel the grief. I’m not surprised that you cry each time you look at the photos, as there is something about the holidays that makes us miss those who are gone even more. Wishing you peace….

      Liked by 1 person

  23. I too have a keepsake box, or should I say several, if I count the ones in the attic! I have little boxes saved that are full of letters and cards from friends and family. As you mention, some of these people have passed away or we no longer keep in touch. When I read the cards and letters, I remember the special times we shared and I celebrate those moments.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I think that’s exactly the purpose of our keepsake box (or boxes…I have separate ones for my children, too.) Those keepsakes help us remember the special times and to celebrate all the gifts we have had in our lives. It can be bittersweet, but I think it is still worth remembering. Thanks for the comment!

      Liked by 1 person

      • I have keepsake boxes for my children as well! I put all their favorite childhood things in those boxes…I sometimes think I saved too much. But then, there is great joy in remembering. First, we live the actual moment, and then we sort of live that moment again through the keepsakes and cards. And if we write or journal about it, we have that too.

        Liked by 1 person

        • I agree! Keeping a journal is a terrific way to keep our memories. And as for saving too much, I think we each get to decide how many keepsakes to keep…whatever is special to you is worth keeping!

          Like

  24. Yeah, I also keep things that have meaning for me and jog my memory – keeping the people and experiences attached to them alive. That said, it used to be out of pure nostalgia but as the years pass and my memory problems get worse, some of the actual reason for having some of the things has gone too… so I let go of the stuff that no longer makes sense to me or no longer has any strong emotions. But I have different levels of possession I keep for their memories. There’s some of my parents stuff (a little more of which I let go each year as time works its blur on me), but there is also a box with things that – like yours – would have little to no meaning to anyone else. Included in that is a plastic comb that fell out of a party cracker on my wedding day, one plastic shoe that belonged to a doll I had when I was little, a toy car, a (probably lead) knight that belonged to my dad when he was a boy that he passed on to me, and so on. And stuck to my desk there’s a little fabric ‘ruffle’ (best way I can describe it) which was part of a ribbon decoration on a gift my sister gave me – I keep it because since I’ve had it, its colours have reminded me of a doll’s dress that I’d wanted and for a silly reason didn’t get. But it lifts my spirits. And I think really the latter is another great reason for keeping these things: to lift our spirits.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, those special keepsakes do lift our spirits! And that’s a good point about not remembering exactly why we have kept everything. I guess when the time comes that we no longer remember why we are keeping something, then it really is time to let it go. Thanks for the comment, Val!

      Liked by 1 person

  25. Lovely share, I could read your words forever Ann, they are so real and have a calm quality about them! By the way you daughter looked so like you with your little pony in her photo in Raise them up… Beautiful!

    Liked by 1 person

  26. A very touching and special post, Ann! I think we all keep a box of keepsakes around, be it a real one or one that’s just made of the fabric of dreams. I think I’ve still some treasure boxes I had when I was a child. That’s what I called them although they didn’t hold anything of material value. Tickets to the cinema and the like mostly. I think it’s time to unearth them again and have a look through.😉
    Oh, and about that blogging friend of yours – I can so much relate, there are three of mine that went of the grid though none of them had an upcoming surgery, at least they never mentioned one. It’s really hard, I keep checking their blogs every so often but there’s never a new entry. Let’s just hope they only forgot their password, won the lottery or simply are too busy to keep blogging.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I think the fun of keepsakes is that the items don’t really mean anything to anyone but ourselves! And yes, I think one of the hardest parts about blogging is that some people we interact with regularly, and even begin to think of as friends on a certain level, can suddenly disappear and we never know why. I’ve had that happen with several people, although the one I wrote about is the only one who mentioned a surgery beforehand. And I am lucky in that a few have re-surfaced, so I know they are okay. One even answered a comment I left on his blog with an email just to let me know he was taking a break from blogging…that was so thoughtful, because then I didn’t have to worry!

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