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How long do you hold onto mementoes?

How long do you hold onto mementoes?

They owned it then kept it, we’ve seen it, no one else will know what it is.

So now what?

We’re cleaning out my dad’s office. There’s all kinds of interesting stuff in here, but we’re only here for a few days and my mom wants us to “get ruthless” with getting rid of stuff. But where’s the line? How do you know what to keep and what to get rid of and what to give away?

That hearing aid was $6,000, surely someone would appreciate it. Ooh, here’s a book we can toss, “How to talk with Democrats: if you must.” Hmm, an Olympic brochure that I got for my dad in 1988 from a flea market in Munich: from the 1936 Olympics under Hitler. Carly Simon albums (as in record albums), classical music CDs and a certificate of something or other from 1905.

It all makes for great memories and conversations, but do we keep it? If we do, where do we store it and for how long?

There’s probably a study done on what to do. Maybe there’s a handbook with charts and numbers to calculate when and what. But I’m going to go with Marie Kondo and just ask the simple question, “Does it bring you joy?”

It might be a question to ask for most things in life.

Out go the posters from various marathons. Find happy owners for the hearing aids and (dead?) batteries. To my house with the official and very-hard-to-find metro map of Paris from 1989. Mom’s keeping the photos of people we don’t even recognize. Sis wants the Fiddler on the Roof album. I’ll hold onto that Olympic brochure which even has real photos individually glued into its pages.

These are moments I don’t enjoy but are important. I partly don’t want to remember these days of sorting through mementoes, but I will. As we filter, we remember and as we remember, we don’t forget.


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