Forgotten Boxes

My church is holding classes after their Wednesday night dinners for the congregation. One is called, “Who Gets Grandma’s Yellow Pie Plate.” We get down to the details of who gets what when we’re gone. I was imagining my granddaughter opening a shipment of mystery souvenirs from my life. Hopefully when they arrive she’ll be married, rushing to organize her children’s day while preparing for an important meeting at her prestigious firm. Perhaps she’ll promise to open the boxes in the evening when her son and daughter are tucked in bed for the night. Would her husband help her unwrap the various articles, laughing with her at the strange assortment? I’ll be watching momentarily from where, as the song says, “When we’ve been there ten thousand years bright shining as the sun, we’ve no less days to sing Him praise than when we first begun.”


Harder to imagine is who will pack the boxes and even find the listed items in my will. My husband would have a difficult time finding the jewelry items and attaching notes as to their significance or worth.

Would it be my nephew who discovers the six gold bracelets which I bought as hedges against old-age’s worry of poverty? I attended his Hindu wedding where I was told by his mother that the bracelets she wore each signified one year of marriage. I thought at the time it was a lovely idea, but the cost of the collection quickly dissuaded me from following her tradition.

The box for my three emerald rings is in my sock drawer. Two were found in Seattle and one exactly fitting into the curve of the others was from Chelsea, Michigan. The ring of three opals reminded me of those stolen out of my backpack when I fled the home of my first husband in 1969. I’d been generous enough to pick up a hitchhiker from a Chicago toll booth. I guess he thought he should lighten my load. One ring of garnets and diamonds combines all the gifts from lovers and husbands. I had it made during a seizure of nostalgia. My mother’s pearl screw earrings probably won’t be worn, but I had to include them as an heirloom for my granddaughter.

Would they even own a record player to listen to my collection? Nat King Cole, the Everly Brothers and Ella Fitzgerald might remain silent. And what about the stacks of unpublished novels or computer thumbs of hundreds of poems and short stories? Would they be read before trashed or lovingly published by CreateSpace on Amazon?

Of course the photo albums and scrapbooks should be thrown out. They wouldn’t be worth the cost of shipping them across country to Seattle. But just maybe my granddaughter would have time during her stay for my memorial service at church to rip out the pictures she would like to keep. My oldest niece might save a few too.

The cartons of souvenirs might be hauled down into a basement somewhere, surviving a flood or two to be found by the next generation of movers and shakers. It’s not as if I could take any of this with me where I’m eventually going.

11 Replies to “Forgotten Boxes

    1. My son’s cousin has to spend Christmas in Nicaragua cleaning out his wife’s mother’s home to ready it for selling.

      My best friend here in Ann Arbor moved to California. You might remember her. She joined MMRWA, Judy Nagel? She almost waited too long. 86 and a back injury, broken disc in her spine at shoulder level left her needing daily help. She has a son in California. But the moving, and selling, and the rest of it was nearly too much. I worried about her. But she did it all.

      I’m bringing the friend who did two of my covers, one for Sally Bianco Mystery Series and one for Bonds of Affection. Hope to see you Saturday. She has finished a historical novel about Richard the Third. She read it to me at our group at the city club. Her name is Kathy Kelley, much younger than me, which is a good way to keep a friend at my age.


  1. Your blog brought back memories of when I packed up my parents’ “treasurers.” I did keep a lot of the photo albumns, but they are now on a closet shelf, and I wonder what my kids will do with them when I’m gone. I keep telling myself I need to make sure the pictures have names identifying everyone, but even at that, my children won’t know half the people. As for books, I have a box of foreign editions of my romances. I can’t read them. I’ve given some to libraries, but at most they only want one copy. I know my children won’t be reading them. I really should toss the box…but I don’t.

  2. I worry about all this when I have to bury my father. He’s been saving things from my childhood and they are in the attic. I’ve been better about the items and have given them away when I’m alive so that my family can enjoy them.

    1. That is one of the suggestions the speaker made–To lighten the load for the next generation. Could you ask your father to write about some of the items he’s keeping?

  3. I had to go through much of my mother’s belongings, both in the house she lived in with us and her cabin up north. Not an easy task. I often wonder what will happen to my endless book collection and all those old mss. buried in my files.I keep meaning to simplify my life by giving away more “stuff” but it’s hard to part with books.

    1. I certainly is. AAUW has a book sale in Ann Arbor, but when I participated I saw that the dumpster received the remaining books. Aileen Hyne worked at the library, where I visited her once and a while. Old books were tossed, and unused (not checked out) books went the same way. I kept thinking surely there is a country or a poorer county library that wants books. Now I have open boxes in the basement and give all I can part with to Purple Heart. It is my only contribution to our veterans, at least that’s what I hope benefits.

  4. My grandma teases that she’s slowly transferring the contents of her basement into mine. Every time I visit, I can’t leave empty handed, but I make sure I know the history of each thing and, if at all possible, I use it. I’ve got an aluminum cake cover (missing the plate) from sometime around the 1940’s with “Crystal May” written inside in permanent marker–it covered my 3 year-old’s birthday cake remnants two weeks ago. I’ve got Grandma Rolfe’s battered yellow frying pan, circa 1972… still the best for cooking bacon. I know they’re just “things” and not even heirlooms, but for me, every piece is a connection to the women in my past. Even that buttercup-colored Depression-era bowl with the pink and blue stripe from the antique store with no direct history for me: I’ll still grab it every time over my plastic mixing bowls. I like things with a story. Great thought-provoking post, Rohn.

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