‘You only get two boxes for your stuff. These hired movers are paid by the hour”.
I am certain my family carries a nomad gene. Otherwise, how else to explain my childhood life of moving at least three times a year.
It continually dismantled my life, creating a loss of personal history. There are no saved arts and crafts created in classrooms, nor class photos or end of year achievement awards.
In each move, I was allowed only one personal items box.
Choosing keepsakes newly placed in refilled drawers was a dreaded task. So many years later, I recall assessing long-held keepsakes for judgment. Each memento must evoke sufficient emotional connection to retain its prized placement in that sole moving box.
With each move, treasured mementos traveling with me for years were finally discarded in the quest for a minimum number of boxes.
Despite my longing to retain my only childhood doll, eventually it could no longer fit into the moving box filled with teenage mementos. Relegated to the trash bag, her sad face reflected my own, pleading with me to treasure its embedded hours of happy memories.
It is with a deep sense of loss that I listen to people sharing pictures of their family’s childhood, documents and diaries, some covering generations of life years.
My life heritage, just like my doll, was unable to justify space in a moving truck.
There is no heirloom dishes to use, passed from one generation to the next.
There is no withered and faded love letters from my great-grandparents to one another, scented with lingering perfume.
There is no photo of each home I lived in, nor do I retain sensory memories or a sense of belonging to any house.
All is a blur of cleaning and packing to prepare for the next place to move.
My family did not treasure their heritage, perhaps because my mother had simply never been taught the value of weaving a vital family thread from past generations into future ones.
Later in her life, she haunted antique stores, searching to gift me with mementos long ago discarded in our haste to move.
With no letters from long gone relatives and limited pictures, there can be no recalled coincidences nor shared history.
As I read and listen to memoirs of those who have received this heritage of family history, I ponder and mourn my deep loss.
Sharing my own family history leads to remembering, remembering there is so little known.
It is no small wonder that I raised my family in the same home.
Recently, I began to pack thirty years of raising busy boys into boxes.
I pause for too long to hold my last son’s three-month old baby hat, lost in a nostalgic memory of his birth.
Do I want to maintain my well-taught heritage mantra- if you haven’t looked at it in three months, toss it out?
Does it still ring true to keep the number of moving boxes to a minimum?
While I may not have looked at my first-born son’s first handwritten note for years, I hesitate to discard it now.
Now- just when he might want to see it.
As my children left home, they left behind boxes of treasured keepsakes for storage.
This tender fragile thread of uniting their young life to their adult life is the essence of valuing family history.
When I move, those hired movers surely will make a hefty sum moving all their boxes and all of mine, filled full of mementos.
It will be worth it.