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#517: Disloyal to Memories of My Parents?

Sunday, November 06, 2011

Of the things of Dad's I found as I went through things after Mom passed, are three silver-plated trays engraved with his name, given him by shipmates and people he supervised while in the Navy. They have been sitting in a plastic bin with his Navy uniform, medals, certificates, plaques, etc.

Yesterday a family friend said he had a friend who collected such things and used them on holidays to serve nuts and other things. He said she finds some at flea markets and some are engraved with such things as high school names. He wondered if I'd consider selling them to her.

This afternoon, as I polished them to get them ready for him to show her, I was hit with the feeling that I was being disloyal to my memories of Dad by not hanging on to these them.

I thought of my sister who says Dad was always mean to her although I only saw one incidence of that and of my younger brother who has never helped me sort through things in the seven years since Mom died so has no apparent interest in these and other things.

And I wondered, what purpose is being served by my storing these items in a back bedroom and what will my sister and brother do with them when I am gone?

I considered having them professionally polished and give them each one, but with the feelings they have shown, that didn't seem a good idea.

There are also things of Mom's -- silk scarves from various countries, ivory cameo brooches, a hand-painted quail egg, hand-painted decorative plates -- that make me feel the same when I think of letting them go.

Maybe this is how hoarders feel, as if by keeping things we are honoring our memories. But is it really? Don't our memories stay with us regardless of how much of a person's "stuff" we keep?

May I ask your thoughts?

Does giving these things (or selling them) to people who might use them mean I am somehow being disloyal to memories of Dad and Mom or am I honoring them by allowing some of their things to be used by others who will appreciate them?
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    Oh wow, what a lot of memories stirred there. My brother-in-law's only interest in things from his parents was their apparent worth monetarily. That has left me wanting less of him than in years before his true feelings were revealed. I would not give these items to your siblings who show no loving connection to the meories. I am sorry, but to buy these things at flea markets and use them, to me, cheapens the memory of your father. It is good that they are used, but I am not sure that was their intended use. It was to honor an individual. What I would be more inclined to do is give them to an idividual who will honor your dad in their use. I hate to suggest melting them down and having something else made of them, but that is a possiblility. Or sell the silver and give the proceeds to something that would honor your dad. Some things can be given to a museum. Check with some of the veterans in your area and see what ideas they can come up with that would truly honor your dad. That's just my feelings.
    3385 days ago
    Two things come to mind:

    1) I have a friend who emigrated to Japan some years ago; he has since become a Japanese citizen, so he won't be moving back. Before he left, he gave away a lot of 'mementos' (his word) to all and sundry, as keepsakes so we wouldn't forget him (as if). Before he parted with some of his treasures, tho, he took a number of photographs, from a couple of angles, and stored them on a CD. He said he makes sure to transfer them and 'upgrade' them into new formatting when needed, so he won't lose them, and every so often, he looks thru them, just like a family album, triggering memories and (sometimes) finding inspiration.

    2) Do you have nieces and nephews? or cousins? Because I know that many things I've ended up with would be welcome to some of my extended family - and in turn, they have given me some things that belonged to my grandparents and aunts or uncles. If no one in the family wants something like the engraved trays, fair enough - sounds as tho they will find a good home where they will be appreciated. But if someone says 'You know, I'd enjoy having that - it will always remind me of your father,' then it may be a slightly better landing place for the item as it will be doubly treasured, not only for itself but for its connection to someone the recipient knew.

    Thinks me.
    3396 days ago
    Lou, I know I don't have a real understanding your feelings because I did not have the love of my parents. When my husband died, it was also different than most people experience. The kids and I wanted everything thrown away. The only things I kept were important papers that someday I should not need, then those, too, will go in the trash.

    However, I am experiencing something a little similar with my kids and grand kids. Two of my six have moved away--far away. My son is in Seattle, my daughter is in Maine. I have, in my bedroom, photographs on the walls: a collage of "letters" from my granddaughter when she was 5, pictures from Tae Kwon Do, playing in the back yard (as adults) during a category one hurricane, one grandson dressed as Moses, complete with the tablets of commandments, a daughter in gymnastics, my son-in-law holding his newborn son, a gorgeous self-portrait of one of my daughters. Everyone is represented several times.

    In my very small hallway I have framed pictures of relatives: my grandmother as a young girl before a ballet recital, my grandfather posing formally in his back yard, a picture that does no justice to his loving heart. There are pictures of my always smiling great-grandmother. I can barely remember her, but when I see that picture I can feel her love for me. A few pictures of my mother with us as babies, and two wedding pictures of my parents. Those are there why? Because I wish they had loved each other and we children, and because my granddaughter, age 6, finds extended family so very important to her.

    As to mementos, I do have some. I have one toy for each of my children. Seth's Charlie Brown friend (stuffed toy), Dusty's Cabbage Patch baby, Jess' Little Foot dinasaur (stuffed), Grace's first stuffed bear, Hannah's favorite childhood book and Sam's Baloo the bear from The Jungle Book. They relax on a white shelf above my closet, where I can see them.

    There are still things I have to do. I have three boxes of pictures, medals, Mother's Day cards and original first stories. I will put them in scrap books that I already have. When? When I am not caring for young grandchildren most days of the week. Other than these things, I purge "things" a couple of times a year.

    I like simplicity, but cannot seem to achieve it. I have a daughter who leaves her "stuff" in every room in the house, and it frustrates me incredibly. But the main reason I have no problem with belongings of loved ones is just because my loved ones are my sons and daughters, their husbands and wives, and my grandchildren. There is not a living parent, aunt, uncle or cousin who even cares about any of us. But that is just the way it is.
    3398 days ago
  • no profile photo CD5178852
    I think many things can be photographed and arranged artistically. The photos don't take up much room and you can hang them on the wall to really SEE. Stored in a box, the original items are not seen at all.

    Memories are nice but too much stuff leaves no room for new memories and fresh experiences.
    3398 days ago
  • no profile photo CD11035818
    I would save a few and give everyone in the family some little something you think they might cherish or invite them over to pick something out . No one needs boxes full of Memories. After sharing with other family members then dispose of what is left however you see fit. Peace be with you. Paulette
    3399 days ago
  • CHARMIN944
    Lou, I agree with TEDYBEAR2838. It's not disrespectful to donate some of your Dad's things. Keeping 1 or 2 to display is what I did when my husband passed away last year. I pray that God gives you peace and wisdom in whatever decision you make.
    3400 days ago
    You sure have many opinions already, some are very thoughtful. I imagine there is a spectrum from hoarding to the most simplistic minimalist. One thing is certain, this is a personal choice.

    Each of us has our preference unique to who we are. The only person who can make this choice is you. None of us can say what you should/could/must do. You are the only Lou.

    I have watched shows where professionals force boarders to toss their things allowing them to keep very little. These persons act as though most things should be tossed. Ask yourself which are you? Who is Lou?

    3402 days ago
    I have had a bit of this myself, as my mum passed 2.5 years ago, dad has been hard to give up anything other than to myself and my daughter, my son is being left out cos dad dislikes my dil. NOT fair to my son. So I have tried to make sure that he gets some things too. Now we are contemplating dad moving in with us and first thing was what will we do with my things.... the place we want to build is small. Now my dd is sentimental and would take everythiung cos it was theirs. She was mad and cried when her hubby gave me some winter sheets that were mums that she gave them to use and they don't fit their bed. She is sstill very much mourning my mum.
    first thing dad said was you want this lisa wants this.... I said remember dad we are veery much downsizing, it may not be that I don't want or have good memories but it isn't going to fit. Also she has royal doulton that isn't in any of our decorating lines so now what. I will probably keep it till dad passes then see as it will hurt him a lot.
    There will be things I will keep, one or two things I will send to my cousin when dad goes as she and my mum had a very special relationship but dad is being stingy there too.
    So hugs and ask your siblings then dispose of what you think can get more use and or help someone. I agree sitting in a back room in a box isn't a real mememory.
    3402 days ago
  • TEMPEST272002
    I'm glad to see you've received so many thoughtful responses. I'm not big on keeping "stuff", but I do keep a few momentos of my grandparents. My only piece of caution is to not assume you know what your siblings or their children want. They might be just fine to let you store all the stuff, but not so fine with you getting rid of it. I'd suggest a quick phone call to let them know they need to speak up now if they want something in particular. Hugs Lou.
    3402 days ago
    I lost both of my parents and so I went through this myself. What I did was to choose a few things of each parents that meant something to me and them and kept that everything else was sold, given away or stolen by creeps who came to the yard sale to scope out the pickings. It was overwhelming and it will bring up feelings.

    But do not feel quilty unless you are interested in becoming a hoarder. Hang in there, I promise you that there is an end to this eventually. It took me a YEAR, to clear out two homes and I think my mom was a hoarder or just a really messy collector.
    3402 days ago
  • TEDYBEAR2838
    Lou, it's perfectly all right to give up things from the past that belonged to your parents. Maybe keep 1 or 2 that are your favorites and display them. If you don't have any you'd like to display, I say, let them go and be admired by others.

    Memories are in our hearts.

    3403 days ago
  • no profile photo CD6035648
    I don't think you're being disloyal to your parents memory. I recently gave away my dad's favorite chair. It's a lift chair and it was given to a neighbor's 90 year old mom who is having difficulties with mobility. It was hard to part with it for sentimental reasons, but I know my dad would want someone to get good use out of it as he did. And yes I cried when the chair was carried out of the house.
    I think for me, I need to keep some momento of my parents. I have some of my mom's things, and a few things of my dad that I just can't give away. One day I will pass them on to my children, but for now, I'm not ready to part with them yet. Mom is gone 3 years, dad is gone 5 months.. Maybe in a few years I'll feel differently, but for now, when I hold these items, it brings me back to a time when they were with me.. and for me it's a comfort. It's like when I was little and they were holding my hand.. Yeah I'm a sentimental mush.. lol.
    3403 days ago
    I understand this dilemma. My cousin, who was like a sister to me, gave me many things that I now do not know what to do with. I've slowly begun to keep the things that she charished (and I do too), and give away other things.
    3403 days ago
    The only hesitation I would have in allowing these items to have new life and new purpose is the consideration of the next generation, perhaps nieces and nephews that may want something tangible of their grandparents to take forward. I would so love to have something that belonged to my grandfathers. (I never knew my grandmothers.) Other than a memento of that type, my opinion is that it's a greater honor to allow those possessions to be useful, be touched by human lives than to be hidden away, with no useful purpose, forgotten. List them on Craigslist or some such site and enjoy whatever profits materialize! For myself, I'd rather my kids unload whatever possessions I have and get pleasure out of the proceeds rather than cluttering up storage space with dormant stuff. Just my two cents, my friend! Let us know what you decide to do. Whatever that is, you have my support and prayers.
    3403 days ago
  • MOGAL1946
    No, I don't think you are being disloyal to their memories. I think more & more people are downsizing now trying to eliminate the problem of having so much stuff that really doesn't mean much to the future generations. You have your own memories of your Mom & Dad and as was stated...no one can take those memories away. We were talking about family pictures at one of our recent family reunions and wondered what future generations would do with them as they wouldn't know who the people were or how they were related. Best wishes in whatever you decide.
    3403 days ago
    I don't think it is being disloyal unless your father specifically asked you to keep those items as a family heirloom and wanted it passed down through the generations. I agree with most of the other posts: it is the memories that we cherish and hold on to, not the "stuff". I had to learn that lesson to avoid becoming buried in "stuff" Too much sentimentality can lead to a battle with clutter.

    If someone else likes it and can find a good use for it, isn't that better than being boxed up and left to languish on a shelf?

    3403 days ago
    Unless there was a will specifying what to do with each item and it holds no special memories to you, and it pretty obvious your siblings are not interested, I'd say sell them or give them away. Unless its special to you its just "stuff".
    My 2 cents emoticon
    3403 days ago

    Comment edited on: 11/7/2011 5:27:12 PM
    I believe memories are in our hearts and minds. I keep pictures in a picture book of family who are alive and passed away. Things are things that may have a memory attached to them in some way.

    Wendy emoticon
    3403 days ago
    Lou, I have the very same situation! My mother IS a hoarder, though, so mine is a rather extreme situation. I agree with DRAGON-CHICK, that you just can't keep everything. Maybe there are a few very special, meaningful things that you can keep in their memory, but I have to agree with you that some things would be better somewhere where people will use and appreciate them.

    On another note, my step-grandmother is a dear lady. She had no way of knowing that my grandfather never had anything to do with us as kids (well, maybe she did, but that was before her time with him). When he died, she created a picture made with his ties and had it framed for me. As thoughtful as it was, I have never been able to display it as it just doesn't ring with any kind of affection or good memories. Also, I have some really good memories of some of my older family that my older brother doesn't remember or agree with. I had to learn (with difficulty) that each person's perception of things while growing up is probably very different, and I simply chose to cherish that memory without imposing it on my brother. Gosh, I'm just rambling, but your blog brought these things to mind...

    Anyway, I hope you come to a peaceful decision about your parents' things. You are a dear man with strong roots of loyalty and devotion. emoticon
    3403 days ago
    Oh, wow. I have the same issue.

    A friend of mine tells me I don't have to always be the "keeper of the legacy," and when my father died, my sister and I developed the mantra of "You can't keep everything," while we were emptying his place.

    I still have quite a bit of stuff, and little by little I've been giving it to people who will appreciate it.

    I don't think my parents would have wanted me to feel burndened by holding on to their stuff. Still many things are hard to part with. Any many are a joy to keep also.

    Good luck!

    3403 days ago
    These things confuse me, too. There are many things still in my parents' house for my sister, brother, and I to sort. I have brought many things home with me, but honestly, what am I doing with them? Of course their art work always has a place here, but there is even too much artwork.

    These are hard calls for me. Some things are just too hard to let go... but I know what you mean about hoarders.
    3403 days ago
    WOW, Lou,

    That's a tough one. Did you know about the existence of these items before your mom's death? If they've been stored away for years, they may have been more sentimental value to your mom rather than to your dad. My dad received a purple heart in the war, and it was up in our attic - unknown to any of us kids. My brother found it one day, and dad said he could have it. So, I guess I'm thinking like you - if this person can use and appreciate them, I'd say sell them to her. Good luck with your decision.
    3403 days ago
    I wouldn't think of it as disloyal but if it is something that meant a lot to your father it would be a beautiful thing to see someone in the family take care of it. Then again, if noone really wants it then having someone who would care for it is the next step. You could always have those items in a will to be passed on to whomever you want when it comes down to that time.

    On the note of your parents, what do you think they would want? Did they ever speak about such items to let you know?

    Parting with items can be just as hard because of the memories/meanings behind them. I would follow your heart in such a matter and do what you think will be best.

    Best of luck!
    3403 days ago
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