Jill's Journal: Sorting through a lifetime of memories

Jill Meier, Journal editor

For a fleeting moment, I wondered, could I be pregnant?

Absolutely not, I told myself. Mother Nature’s taken well care of that.

This silly thought came to mind while sorting through decades of memories at my mom’s house. The thought spurred from the old adage that a woman about to give birth goes on a cleaning spree, better known as “nesting.”  So, while the “cleaning spirit” is moving me, over the three-day New Year’s weekend, I decided to tackle some of the closets and cupboards in my own home.

I’ve had lots of smiles, and of course, plenty of tears as I go through a lifetime of “stuff” at mom’s house. I’ve come up with boxes and boxes and boxes of photos, which is sort of ironic, as my folks weren’t front and center with a camera in hand for every shining moment or holiday of our lives as kids.

Don’t get me wrong. There are photos, like the one of me sitting on the training potty or my brother and I standing in front of our car during a vacation to the Black Hills of South Dakota. I remember it well. The year was 1972, not long after the big flood that swept through Rapid City, and I had a snazzy pair of brown – albeit plastic – maxi boots that I proudly wore just about any time that I could wear them, including that photo.

There’s also lots of photos of people that to be honest, I don’t have a clue of who they are. There are hundreds of pictures of people – all with a hearty smile – holding up stringers of fish. And there’s pictures of my dad as a soldier in the Army in Germany and France. There are black and white photos my mom, as a young 20-something before she met my dad and was sharing an apartment with a gal who I suspect was one of her best pals.

I’ve marveled at all of the studio photos of my parents during their youth, wedding photos of aunts and uncles and years later, many of my cousins’ weddings. They’re all there. Memories. Stacked one on top of the other.

On Christmas Day, as our family gathered at mom’s house for one last Christmas there, we took advantage of the “laborers” on site. The old adage, “Many hands make for light work,” has never been so true.

With only one of the two bedrooms upstairs largely cleared out, we formed an assembly line as we cleared out “the storeroom.”

“The storeroom” contained not only stuff from my parents’ near 50 years of marriage, but many of my childhood toys and teenage trinkets. The bulk of my toys went to the Dumpster, with the exception of a few prized possessions, not including my village of Barbies, which I handed down to my great-nieces several years ago.

While I didn’t have time to reminisce about the memories of my playthings, it felt good to let it go. 

I also came across my high school letterman’s jacket hanging in the closet. I remember being so excited when I unwrapped it at Christmas in 1979, the year I was a freshman. And I remember being so proud when I handed over the “StJ” letter to mom to affix to the coat, which I wore with pride.

The memories won’t fade, but as for the coat itself, let’s just say, it fit better four decades ago.

Yes, cleaning out a lifetime of memories – whether it be the home of our parents or our own – can sometimes be comical or emotional, and yet oh, so satisfying.


The Brandon Valley Journal


The Brandon Valley Journal
1404 E. Cedar St.
Brandon, SD 57005
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