Sunday, January 28, 2007


Memories, pressed between the pages of my mind
Memories, sweetened thru the ages just like wine,
Memories, memories,
sweet memories
Sung by Elvis Presley

My home is cluttered. I live in a small condo with a 72-year collection of stuff.

Thirty-two years ago I met a woman who had a fascinating collection of Staffordshire dogs. I was so taken by it that I decided to start a collection of my own. I thought about what I wanted to collect for quite a while and then, on a trip to Italy, I discovered a small frog figurine and decided to collect frogs. As a child I was always enchanted by the story of the princess who kissed a frog and the frog became a prince.

I collected indiscriminately in the beginning. I saw a frog; I thought I had to have it. After a few years, I began to focus on finding unusual additions to a collection growing by leaps and bounds. Family and friends frequently added to my collection. Although all my children now shudder at the thought of inheriting my collection, they continue to give me frogs and “complain” to others about the impressive number of frogs in my collection. I have assured them that, if one of my grandchildren is clever, they will sell all my frogs on eBay and earn themselves a nice chunk of change. It truly is an impressive number of frogs. I have collections within the collection – frog mugs – frog pitchers – frog greeting cards – frog jewelry, and on and on. Frog is part of my email address and a part of my identity.

My condo is also cluttered with books. Every room in the house has books in it. An entire wall is taken up by bookshelves in the living room and there are several baskets filled with small collections of books on the floor. I have always loved books and reading and have always wanted a library of my own. My idea of heaven is a library containing all the books ever written and the authors themselves roaming around available for conversation.

I keep thinking that I really should eliminate some of the clutter but nearly everything in my home is a reminder of someone or something in my life history. How can I clear out my life history? The desk in my living room was my father’s desk. On the top shelf is a figurine of an angel, lion and lamb that my daughter gave to my mother. Next to it is a beautiful carved box that my son brought home to me from Afghanistan. The flag presented to my mother by a young soldier “from a grateful nation” at my father’s memorial service sits on top of the entertainment center. Paintings painted by my mother hang on my walls and a gallery of family photographs line the walls of the stairs.

In my bedroom, the quilt that covers my bed was made by my son and daughter-in-law. The carpet on the floor was my father’s favorite. My mother’s Hummel figurine of the Madonna sits on my dresser and next to it is my grandmother’s figurine of the Madonna. Needlework done by my daughters is displayed in my bedroom.

On one wall there is a large gold frame containing the long christening gown, made from my wedding gown, worn by my children and grandchildren at their baptisms. Next to it is a wedding portrait of me wearing my wedding gown on my wedding day. Beneath it is a large round table covered with family photographs.

There is a memory attached to nearly every thing in my home, a memory that reminds me of the wonderful life that I have lived. These memories are the story of my life. And not to be cleared out just yet.

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