These are my parents. Don’t they look happy? I’d like to think these are genuine smiles and not that social media version we so often see these days. After retirement, my parents were fortunate enough to travel and visit a few amazing places on this earth. These pictures are from their very first trip abroad on safari to Tanzania, Africa in 2006. They loved nature and wildlife and began their traveling journeys when I was still in high school. They traveled extensively in the summer, going out west for many years. Picking a destination, flying in, renting a car, stopping at the local Wal-Mart for a cooler and supplies and then they would hit the road driving hundreds of miles visiting our national parks and national monuments.
After their retirements in 2002, they decided it was time to see more of the world and they resolved to plan a ‘big’ trip for each year. And so began preparations for more adventures and memories.
Fast forward to 2019. Both of my parents have passed away and our family home was sold in December of 2018. In an effort to lessen the time spent cleaning out the house, which was in Ohio, I boxed up all their photo albums and keepsakes and brought them to Louisville.
Needless to say, I’ve been putting off going through all the things I brought back with me. What I thought was going to be an insurmountable and emotional task turned out to be not so hard. Finally, last week I began going through those photo albums and memories. It brought me joy to see the pictures of them so happy and content. It was comforting to me that they had the opportunity to see and experience some wonderful things.
When cleaning out a loved one’s home after they have passed is always challenging and these photo albums are what I call ‘the hard stuff’. Disposing of the expired food in the pantry, old nail polish from the bathroom and the furniture were the easy things for me. What wasn’t so easy were the numerous photo albums and mementos my parents had collected from 25+ years of trips. Mom and Dad were both excellent amateur photographers and came home with tales of their travels AND thousands of photographs.
At some point when my sister and I were at the house during one of many scheduled working weekends, we came across two scrapbooks of my mom’s. She had saved mementos from her childhood and as she did with lots of things, saved them for posterity. My sister was leafing through one of the books and said, “These are mom’s memories.” And I thought it was so profound to think of things in that way. The items captured in the scrapbooks didn’t hold any special meaning for us, as they were things that were special or important to our mom. When I began going through my parents photo albums I remembered this idea. While I did save pictures of them on their safari, the photos of lions, elephants and zebras were less meaningful. And let’s be honest, I don’t have room to store my parents memories as well as my husband’s and my children’s as well as mine.
When you’re faced with cleaning out a home of a loved one and you get to the ‘hard stuff’, you can begin by asking yourself who’s memories are these? Save those things/items/photos that are meaningful or strike a particular memory for you. This approach can be especially helpful in trying to balance our own memories and keepsakes with those of our parents or grandparents.
We are always here to help you through the Estate process. We can help you get started, pickup in the middle or help you finish if the ‘hard stuff’ is too emotional. Best of luck to those of you faced with this task.