Storing Memories

Storing Memories

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: A Tribute to Moms

Storing Memories

The children’s memorabilia filled two closets in our house, covered the sawhorse in the garage, jammed a utility cupboard, and if something wasn’t done soon, were destined next for my side of the bed (my wife, of course, denies this).

With that said, I announced at the dinner table the other night that it was time to consolidate the art projects, awards, holiday cards, grades, and other mementos our son and daughter have brought home since preschool into one central, confined location. “Preferably, Grandma’s house,” I said.

Since my wife balked at that idea, and because our housing covenants don’t allow silos, she agreed to go through the stuff and weed it down until everything fit into one, large, plastic bin. After a few hours of effort, she called the children and me into the room.

“How’s it going?” I asked.

“What I want to keep won’t all fit into the bin,” she said in frustration. “In this pile, I have the ones I want, and in this other pile,” she said, pointing to a stack of three things—a tiny slip of paper, an old lunchbox, and a broken toothpick house—“are what I’m willing to throw out.”

I put my arm around her. “So you need someone to make an unbiased decision of what must go?”

“No, I need a larger bin.”

I rummaged around in the “keep” stack. “Well, honey, this can certainly go.”

“Wait!” she shouted, snatching the paper away from me. She studied it for a few moments. “Ken, we can’t throw that out.”

“You want to save our son’s spelling test?”

“Of course, it’s precious,” she replied.

“He got a D-minus.”

“I know,” she said, pointing at the sheet. “But look at the nice thing the teacher wrote on it.”

I studied the paper. “It says, ‘nice improvement.’”

“See,” she said, carefully placing it in the bin.

My son poked his head over the large pile. “What about this?”

My wife’s face broke out into a silly grin. “Oh, I don’t think I can really let that one go,” she said, pulling down to her heart the macaroni necklace our daughter made a few years ago in kindergarten. “I wore this to the Country Club Dinner/Dance.”

“You went into public with it?” my daughter said disgustedly.

“Of course I did—you asked me to.” She turned to me. “Remember what the waiter said?”

“No.”

She smiled giddily at the children. “He said the pasta really brought out my eyes.”

Our daughter grabbed the necklace. “Hey! Why do four of the noodles look cooked?”

My wife frowned. “They dipped in my soup.”

We went back and forth over twenty-five more things, each one landing back in the “keep” pile until I finally gave up. “Why don’t you put everything back where it was— it’s obvious you aren’t ready for this. ”

“I can keep all of it?” she asked.

“Yes.”

She held up the tiny slip of paper in the discard pile. “Even our son’s first bicycle lock combination?”

I nodded. “I suppose I could always sleep on the couch.”

Ken Swarner

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