When my big brother passed away within these last few months, I found myself with the indescribably difficult task of sorting through his possessions. The intent was to see what I wanted to keep, what could be donated, and what could be sold to generate revenue for his treasured theater group. Many of his things surprised me, telling me more about him than he could have ever said.

Some of the items were not surprising. He had our dad’s diamond ring and a very old photograph of our mom. He also kept two clocks that did not work; perhaps it was because he never got around to having them repaired or because both were gifts from me. Those closest to me are probably still perplexed at my determination about finding and keeping the Beatles White Album. While I could probably find a copy somewhere, any other copy would not have the hundreds of hours that we spent together listening to it.

Another remarkable item was a slide rule that had his and my names printed on the case. My best guess is that he didn’t use the slide rule since high school, largely because it was tucked away with other memorabilia. Maybe it was because it was part of our collective history.

Beyond that, the items were a combination of being a very thorough saver and a more sentimental person than I could have ever imagined. We succeeded at going through virtually every item and piece of paper, causing me to reach quite a few collections about my own treasures.

My hope is that those who complete the type of review that I just did will realize as I did that many things that I keep are entirely because of the memories that they represent. Every day I look at two items that my kids and I designed and painted when creating pottery was very trendy in the 90s. One day they will see how those items and the recollections they conjure are what mean the most to me. I can only hope. Shalom.

One thought on “What we keep

  1. I remember going through my dad’s things while he was in memory care, and then after he died. The attachment we have to the littlest things can generate such big emotions. I jumped at the chance to learn anything about my past.


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