Scraps of Paper and Peppers in a Jar

cannedPeppersHolding memories.

I’m so grateful that the hours of daily research to find an overseas teaching position has come to a halt. The urgency of filling out paperwork for my new school has been taken care of, at least for the time being. Inspections and appraisals have happened and there is no reason to think that the sale of my home won’t go through.  I’ve spent the last few days going through the remaining objects of my life and trying to determine what to do with them. There are four categories: 1) Take to Istanbul, 2) Give to my daughter, 3) Sell/Give away, 4) Save for my grandchildren.

Since beginning my blog a year ago, I’ve sold and given away many, many things . . . a lifetime of things. I’ve challenged myself to get as close to ground zero as possible with my material possessions. What’s left doesn’t take up much physical space but the memories these things hold are as big as the Grand Canyon. There’s only four weeks left until I move out of my house. My daughter and her boyfriend are coming to Dallas for a week that will extend over two weekends. That means I really only have two weeks to finish up dealing with these last few things. In realizing this, I became paralyzed.

Because she told me she wanted to help when I got to this point, I called a sweet friend over to help me make these final decisions. Post-it-Notes and colored tape helped us get through my entire kitchen. We titled two narrow, kitchen drawers, “IST” and these items will go with me to Turkey. All that I will use in my kitchen during the next four weeks is now housed in two, small kitchen cabinets.

In handling these last objects, the oddest things would stop me in my tracks. A 30 year old recipe on a gravy-stained, grease soaked scrap of paper caused a flood of memories to come rushing at me. When I picked up the card called, “Mom’s Stuffing” I remember the Thanksgiving Day, at least 25 years ago, that I followed my Mom around her kitchen measuring out all the ingredients. She never used measurements. She’d made dressing for years and knew how to do it by heart. She couldn’t tell me how to make it, so, as she grabbed the ingredients, I made her stop and measure, and I wrote them down. I put this card in the “Give to my daughter” box but I might end up moving it to the “Save for my grandchildren” box. Another stained sheet of notebook paper held the beautiful handwriting of my Aunt Sue. Her recipes for Crème Mints and Frozen Banana Punch were used to make treats for every bridal shower or baby shower on that side of the family. How is it that we humans become so emotionally attached to scraps of paper? A jar of home-canned hot peppers has set on my kitchen counter for seven years. The Kerr sealed jar not only holds the juices, seeds and peppers of the last garden my Mom and Dad ever had, it holds a lifetime of memories of my family’s annual vegetable gardens and breaking beans in the driveway of my childhood home in Missouri. These family memories are happy and simple; long before my Dad fell ill with Alzheimers.

It’s hard!!! This is why people don’t deal with their crap! It is emotionally draining and difficult. It’s much easier to keep these scraps of paper hidden amongst new cookbooks and stacks of dishes. Memories. They exist in deep caverns and down long hallways of our minds. Memories are important, but as my friend suggested, wouldn’t it be just as powerful to take a digital photo of these things and make a list of these special objects and memories and just read the list from time to time? I have to believe so as I continue to fill boxes.

Next: bedroom closet . . .

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6 thoughts on “Scraps of Paper and Peppers in a Jar

  1. Heather says:

    Anita! You are such an inspiration and bring up so many untouched human qualities in such a genuine way. AND then you courageously go further and inspire us all to get past it by exploring and walking through the discomfort yourself. Yeah!

  2. Gloria Ball says:

    God be with you and bless you in the next adventure of your life. I’m so thankful that our paths have crossed but let us continue to interact through this electronic medium.

    • Dear Gloria, thank you so, so much! I know how special it is to keep in touch with your students. I’m glad I can be that for you. 🙂 You will forever be dear to me in my memories. Absolutely we will continue to interact online! How did the world ever exist before the internet? 🙂 I know I sure as heck wouldn’t be moving overseas if not for that advancement! Keep in touch!

  3. belocchio says:

    We are on the same page this week. I have fifty years accumulation of photographs and paper.I am sorting. Last night I gave my son all the papers from his school years. Now it is his responsibility to look after those memories. Virginia

    • Hi, Virginia! This past summer I sat with my daughter, now 22, and we went through all her school papers, all the way back to elementary school. That’s a big job – I know! But good for you to dive in and give it all to him. We’re spring cleaning in a big way!

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