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Posts Tagged ‘isolation project’

The past couple of days have been exhausting emotionally. I reduced my saved memorabilia by two thirds. That was easy. No one cares if I went to see John Mellencamp and saved the ticket stubs or that I saved *every* piece of literature from our Yellowstone vacation. I filled two boxes with stuff I recycled.

Then came the saved letters. THAT was emotional. I saved letters from my Great Aunts, my Gramma Melrose, my Aunt Phyllis, my sisters Deni and Cyndi, and a few from my parents. They are all gone now: Great Aunt Cindy, Great Aunt Doris, Gramma, Aunt Phyl, Cyndi, Deni, Mom, Dad. I decided to pass on the letters from Cyndi to her oldest daughter, who is still reeling from her mother’s passing last summer.

I read through the few I saved from my sister, beginning with the one she wrote from Idaho State Penitentiary. My parents had been silent on the issue of my sister, so I was completely blind-sided by her location. It made sense, even without knowing the story. My sister leaned a lot toward the outlaw side of life. She was a self-confessed “black sheep” in a family with a history of law enforcement. She was also witty, smart, funny, and genuine. She simply had very bad taste in men and an addictive personality.

Her letters are everything she was: struggling poor, a loving mother, an optimist, and a sucker for men who didn’t care about her or the babies they fathered. I’m passing those letters on to one of her children.

I started writing penpals in the late 1960s. There was a column in Western Horseman Magazine where you could connect and find other kids as horse crazy as yourself. Most of those penpals drifted off through the years, but I have stayed in touch with two of them for – what? 52 some odd years. And I saved almost all of those letters. Two years ago, one of those dear friends suddenly – and angrily – unfriended me. It was heart-wrenching, confusing, and completely out of the blue. I didn’t “like” a comment she made on Facebook and – just like that – our friendship was over.

I didn’t save any of her letters. I can’t bear to read them, to taste the sense of deep fellowship that I thought we had, knowing how abruptly she chose to end it all.

Today was better. I moved to photographs, starting with all the loose ones. I trashed duplicates, photos of kids I don’t remember, and recycled all the metal frames I used to display enlarged photos. I checked photo albums against the loose photos, filling in the gaps as I could. I’m missing photos. I tossed photo albums that were falling apart.

photos

Ignore the unicorn. These are the photos I tackled today.

I scanned photos of my childhood, especially any of my sister, tagging my niece and nephew as I did so. They have nothing of hers, the precious few photos I have of her are gems for them.

Finally, I tried to make sense of a timeline for the loose photos. My mother dated hers – that was easy. My dad’s weren’t dated but I can make an educated guess. The photos of my kids, however… WHY didn’t I date them?! I can guess based on their faces, but… I guess it will just be “close enough”. Fortunately, from 2004 through 2005, I previously sorted and dated the photos.

After 2005, I went digital.

Now all I need to do is to insert the photos into the three albums I purchased (probably in 2006 or 2007). Hopefully, I have less than 900 photos to deal with. If I have more… UGH. I just want this project over with.

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