Some things from my boxes I can’t throw away. Yet. I was doing fine with my purge until the final box labeled jobs/MS/PhD. In other words, my nursing career and advanced degrees in nursing. As I paged through the piles of papers I had saved, every memory came springing back.
Job application letters, letters of acceptance, letters of resignation.
Teaching paraphernalia–syllabi of courses I’d developed, along with forms for various clinical assignments, exams, summaries of course evaluations.
Advanced degrees–papers I’d written during my master’s and doctoral programs, papers (and slides) I’d presented at research conferences, unbound copies of my master’s thesis and doctoral dissertation.
Perusing the banker’s box full of these papers that at one time I’d deemed important enough to save, I was surprised by the immediate time travel back to being seated in those job interviews; standing in front of multiple classrooms, lecture notes in hand; meeting students before the first day of mental health nursing clinicals with my detailed instruction sheets (“don’t wear jeans–not blue, not green, not red”); taking the IC (lllinois Central train-yes, I still had a schedule), now the Metra, that I took from the south suburbs to the University of Illinois for my MS and PhD. And so much more.
It was too much to take in during one marathon session. I could not blithely pitch the piles into my shredder box. I decided I would pack most of it back up and schedule another session with those oh so poignant memories!
Wish me luck. It’s my goal this week to revisit all of it. As I told a friend, if I do choose to save it, I’m certain the granddaughter or grandson of my now 12-year-old granddaughter will most certainly want to get a PhD in nursing and will be thrilled to know that I, her great-great-great something, will have saved a box that outlines an academic career in nursing in the second half of the twentieth century! My “data” could become the topic of his or her research! That and a copy of Caring Lessons, of course.
I’ve been thinking of similar things I have saved but don’t think I have the courage to pull them out right now. It feels like I am on a sabbatical from looking back. Our minds are so strange and this aging thing is, well… maybe both fun and scary.
Lynn Rosack said:
After retirement I created a small scrapbook of mementos. And in a small glass display case sits my Grady Hospital cap and a nurse teddy bear wearing 9 pins (from nursing school and various certifications) on her apron.
But you, Lois ~ from clinical RN to PhD educator ~ you had an extraordinary nursing career. Your saved papers and mementos could become a valuable time capsule! Have you considered donating a representative collection to a historical archive? See the Library of Health Sciences – Chicago Special Collections and University Archives. https://researchguides.uic.edu/c.php?g=591333&p=5223262
Cynthia N Sander said:
You’re fortunate you have all your things in one box. What I have left is scattered about: my collection of name tags in my desk drawer, my thesis and dissertation parentheses (2 bound copies) on a bookshelf and my study closet, and other things elsewhere. I had dragged my class and lecture notes with me from University of Iowa, to University of Illinois, to West Suburban college of nursing, and finally to TCC. When I retired I dragged a recycle bin and trash bin in to my office and emptied the files. What I do have on my laptop are course files from 2000 to 2005 when we switched to using Word. I do look through them on rare occasion. I still have my notebooks of materials for my ethics in nursing course and my topics course on Nursing in the Developing World. I can’t bring myself to throw those out yet. I’ve been emptying book shelves and donating or tossing books, but can’t bring myself to discarding the thesis and dissertation – yet. It is indeed a painful process and I fully understand your reluctance to deal with your box of memorabilia now. It represents a lot of blood, sweat and, yes, even tears!
I have often thought of your discarding “pages” as I sit in my way-too-cluttered office. Delightful reading and pondering how memories wait for us to stir them into the present.