Saturday, January 30, 2016

One attic, twenty years

People say, often in extreme circumstances, that their whole life flashed before them. Today, my life paraded slowly by me, nostalgic bit by bit. The kids cleaned out the attic--to the right is the clean, empty attic. It's a remarkable change. Getting boxes and things out of the attic turned out to be the least of it, though everything was so dusty the kids put scarves over their faces. But it was the sorting that was most difficult.

The attic work crew standing in front of
the trash pile
My role was to sit and sort, which may have been the most tiring. How do you decide what to keep, what to donate? Some of it was easy—Jamie for instance put aside a whole collection of T-shirts, sizes 2-6 or so, one of which said “Kiss me, I’m Greek” and another, “Alter’s Cherub.” He was sentimental about almost everything he found. Colin, the accountant in the family, sorted out records carefully and, I think took some home to be shredded. Melanie it seems is fascinated by genealogy, particularly since we both share Scottish heritage, and she sorted out two bins of papers, etc. that gave hints of my family background. She left with those plus two family Bibles for their genealogy—she will bring them back after sifting out the information.

They found everything from my baby doll—which we plan to send to a doll hospital—to my MacBain plaid kilt, which probably fit me when I was eighteen. I think we were all surprised by what an emotional and nostalgic day it turned out to be. In the process of sorting, we relived my childhood and theirs—it made Jamie sad for times gone by but it gave me the sense of a life richly lived. Colin is less likely to talk about his feelings, but I said to him tonight that today reassured me they had a wonderful childhood (left unsaid were the words in spite of adoption and divorce), and he replied, “Oh, yeah, we’ve had a terrific life.” I also realized as they sorted file folder after file folder, that I have research and written an awful lot in my life. Deciding what to do with the multitude of magazines I had articles in was one problem.

It’s been a day of accomplishment—they all kept looking at each other and saying, “I can’t believe we got it all done.” But also a day of looking back with gratitude, especially to my parents and the life they created for us, the memories they left us with. And most of all a day of realizing how close we all really are, how much we love each other. I am a rich woman.
Tomorrow I'll start reclaiming my house.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

“Oh, yeah, we’ve had a terrific life.” truer words have never been spoken by Colin. I'm lucky that he has shared that terrific life with me and my family.

P.S. My Mom passed away a few years back, no one has dared even to step foot in her closet, no one has even dared to empty the clothes bag that we brought home from the hospital.

Judy Alter said...

Wish I knew who you are, so I could respond personally. Whoever you are (and I have a suspicion), I'm glad you shared your life with us.