What’s in your storage?


 

storage

Recently I traveled back up north to sort through and collect personal belongings of a loved one who passed away earlier this year. On the plane ride home, I attempted busying my thoughts with something other than, please, please no turbulence and why are we packed in so close, that I can see the drool of the person sleeping next to me? So, I began to ponder the unsettling notion that someday, someone, would look through the belongings in my home or storage place after I am gone. That person may look at it and realize no matter how much you know someone you can’t possibly know everything about him/her.

We have all bought that exercise equipment that is now a clothing rack or the work out videos/DVDs(you know the ones- like Belly Dancing Your Way to Zumba) that are now in a crate along with your hospital bill for that one time you tried Belly Dancing Your Way to Zumba, but ended up in the ER. Those are items we all can relate to. However, there are some items such as books on how to master a particular craft that you never saw that person do(nor ever heard him mention), or CDs on how to learn a language you had no idea he wanted to learn that may surprise you. Attached to each of these personal items, he stored away ideas, dreams, and a  hope that someday his dreams would come to fruition when the timing was right.

Why is that we keep certain objects? What is it that makes us value one item over another? I am still fleshing out my characters  in my current rough draft.  So I am trying to pinpoint his/her favorite belongings. While trying to figure out what they cannot live without, I need to develop some reasons why they can’t live without it. Is it a treasured item because it is sentimental or is it an item that is practical like a flashlight? I may never use this information directly in the story, but it gives me one way to get inside the characters’ head and heart. This process will come in handy when I want to create some turmoil for the character– what happens when this item is lost, stolen, or destroyed? Are they able to develop coping mechanisms, do they give up, or seek revenge?

Of course there are some items you can never get back. When my mom’s home in Hiroshima was destroyed by the bomb, all current pictures of her and her family were burned. However, she still had her memories of the people in her life. Also, thankfully some pictures of when she was younger were in a different location.

Then there are the items that are one of a kind. When we were young we most likely latched on to a particular doll or stuffed animal. Mine was Raggedy Ann and believe me by the time I was 5 she was definitely very ragged indeed. My mom had just sewed pantyhose around the face for the third time to keep the cloth from falling off and protect what was left of her hair(I yanked most of it out-not sure what that says about me), so, my parents bought me another Raggedy Ann doll. I did not play with that new doll. I wanted the original doll –with its balding head and nylon covered tattered face.

I did not learn from my experience, because when I found out what stuffed animal my daughter loved I went out and bought an identical one in case she lost it. When I would wash her bear, I would attempt to switch it out and she would have none of that-she knew it was not her original “stuffie”. I then did what every logical parent would do in that situation. I waited till she was sound asleep, washed it immediately, and hoped to return it before she would realize it was missing. That worked most of the time.

We were attached to these items for the feeling of security they brought us. As I looked through my loved one’s storage unit, I found items that linked him to his birth mother which he never got to really know because she died when he was a toddler. That gave him a sense of security. Also, I found all the letters/cards that I had ever sent him. Some back to when I was only 8 years old. He also had all the cards my daughter had made for him in the past 18 years. It made me smile because he found them important to keep because we mattered to him.

So even though I had no idea he wanted to master Chinese, or why he had all these cook books when he did not cook, I did know he loved us. Well, I knew that already because he had told me many times, but it reminded me that I did not need to know every aspect of his life to be important in his life. So I hope someday when people look at my stuff in storage, they find among the “what was she thinking?” stuff, some mementos that remind them of their importance in my life.

So, tell me, what’s in your storage?

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18 thoughts on “What’s in your storage?

  1. I think that of you dig deep enough through some of the old boxes I still keep at my parents, you might just find a Rudolph nose. I got it on one of my trips into Boston with a very special cousin and her husband. I don’t know if she knows how much those weekends with them meant to me. Or that I used the knowledge I learned from them to navigate my way through the T system during a blizzard after a night at the theater. I hope she does, and I hope that her memories are as wonderful as mine. Even now that we are grown and grown apart I still think of these times whenever I am in the big city and share them with my children.
    Love always,
    Aimee

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    • Aimee, I can’t tell you how much your comment touched my heart! Do you know every year I take out the picture of us with the rudolph noses on? Those weekends meant a LOT to us too. I am so glad these memories have stayed with you as well. And that they helped you when you are in Boston with your children! Love you too, always!

      Liked by 1 person

    • Sarah, thank you for visiting. When I came home I definitely looked at my “stuff” in a new light. However, the process is definitely NOT going to happen quickly, for me anyway 🙂

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  2. Kathleen,

    Great post! I have had the experience of sorting and sifting through my loved ones belongings several times. It is one of the most difficult of tasks – knowing that my dad, my aunt, or my mom had saved and attached special meaning to things that I could but stare at and shake my head! Yet, I bagged and boxed up many of those memories and carted them back home with me. They are hidden in my attic, stuffed under my bed, and some are even hanging on my wall. I have to say that after reading your piece, I will now begin to explore and examine the memory stashes of my characters! Thanks for a wonderful post!

    Ann

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    • Ann, Thank you for visiting and your compliment! I definitely understand packing them up and bringing with you because I have some that I brought home this weekend as well. I am so glad that you found my suggestion-I like how you worded it-memory stashes helpful:)

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  3. ENjoyed this post, Kathy. Yes indeed, what are my character’s favorite belongings? I’d forgotten about that key character question. Thanks for the reminder. And as to me…I’ve been packing our house up and wondered about all of my “stuff.” As I look through all my old journals I think…I better get rid of some of these before I die and someone else reads them! Now, what does that say about me???

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    • Carol, I am so glad that my suggestions about fleshing out the character helped you. Thank you for the chuckle from your last sentence 🙂 Mostly because I know exactly what you mean because when we moved down here I thought the same thing! A little secret-I still have them 🙂

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    • Valerie, thank you so much for stopping in. Yes, it definitely touched my heart when I saw them. I am so glad you enjoyed my post. Good luck in the decluttering and know I am right there with you 🙂

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  4. Kathy,
    I’ve vowed to toss out some of my teacher stuff this winter. I plan to redo the room its stored in. Good motivation for letting it go! One thing I have held on to since childhood is a journal of a trip I took with my grandparents. I’m glad I did.

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  5. Hi Kathleen! I’m joining you from over at Coffee For Your Heart. I read your post and I had to reflect on recently cleaning out my grandparent’s house. The “memories” that were found stashed in boxes and under beds. My grandmother was a bit of a hoarder so there were some interesting finds. Everything from frozen food from 1952 (ew) to pictures of my handsome grandfather in uniform. I, too, have to wonder what someone else will be sifting through that belongs to me… I hope what they learn from me is how much I loved God, loved my family and embraced my place here on earth. Thank you for your words and taking me back, yet again.

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    • Jennifer, Thank you so much for visiting! I am so glad that my post could take you back to the good memories(pictures) and the ‘what the heck’ memories of the frozen food! You topped me on that one for sure 🙂

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