Terri Lee (worth a lot now online!) and Baby (who cries)

George Burns once said, “You know you’re getting old when you stoop down to tie your shoelaces and wonder what else you could do while you’re down there.” This idea has been part of my life since late last fall when I developed hip issues out of the blue. I don’t get down to the floor easily and tying my shoes has become a major event in the morning.

As my hip continues its annoying course, I am thinking I need to prepare for whatever happens next. Most likely, from my past love of my couch, I’ll never be participating in senior-level competitive gymnastics. So being a planner, and practical, and knowing my kids want little to nothing of my treasured memorabilia, this past week I lugged a multitude of banker’s boxes into my front hallway. I cannot not see them. I will have to deal with them.

Labels say things like:

dolls (yes, I still have my baby doll and the Terri Lee doll I got for my 12th birthday, the first doll with hair),

datebooks and calendars (I can look up what I was doing at 8:15 am for almost every day of my teaching career),

folks (stuff from my parents that being the last Hoitenga child has trickled down to me–I have my mother’s lifetime of diaries–in them I can find what she did every day on my birthday and more, plus a box of slides, and a box of old home movies),

PhD and Master’s (every note I took, every paper I wrote, and stuff I amassed pertaining to data collection for the thesis and later the dissertation),

TCC 407 (notes and stuff from my most favorite course to teach at Trinity Christian College–Mental Health Nursing),

several boxes labeled memorabilia, and more.

And I found Delft pieces packed when we moved downtown Chicago in 2005. I expect to discover more surprises as I dig to the bottom of all these boxes.

I imagine your eyes are now glazed over, the look I get especially from my daughter. On the hour of my demise, I can see her ordering a dumpster and out will go any remnants of my life, precious, obviously, only to me. My son is a bit more tolerant as he says, “Mom, I’ll be interested in a few things.” Probably two boxes of John Deere tractor memorabilia of his dad’s.

So, now that I’m 80 and have a bum hip, taking a last look at all these things and starting to throw away seems a prudent thing to do.

How about you? What do you have in your attic, basement, garage, or closets that you know are probably precious only to you? When you can’t bend to the floor with ease anymore, who will help you sort out your memorabilia?

One problem though. To quote George Burns again, “By the time you’re 80 years old, you’ve learned everything. You only have to remember it.” Without the contents of my boxes to review from time to time, I will have to let go of the past and learn to be content with living in the present. And I’ll still have an exciting future lying in wait for me every morning. Along with my shoes.