My Dad is in the process of cleaning out his house for sale. He’s decided to down-size from a 5 bedroom house on a large block of land to a 3 bedroom house in a new development close by. It was a hard decision to make in some ways, after 45 years in one place, but it’s the right decision for him. So the last couple of weekends we’ve made the 2 hour drive to my home town to help with sorting and cleaning out. And we’ll be doing quite a few more weekends like that in the near future I guess. To say it’s a big job would be an understatement!!

This is the house my parents built, that I lived in from just before I turned 2, that has always been “home” to me. For my two brothers and I, it holds all our collective gowing up memories. We lived, loved, laughed, fought, learned, grew, played, worked and rested here. Every nook and cranny has a story to tell. Almost every nook and cranny is full of stuff that needs to be sorted, and brings back memories as it is “excavated”. As we’ve worked through all the stuff, there have been so many “Do you remember…?” moments. Long-loved toys and games; books read and re-read; framed pictures, photos, and slides in their thousands; the old reel-to-reel movies Dad used to play (forwards, then even better, backwards!) projected on the loungeroom wall for us kids in our jammies, dressing gowns and slippers on Saturday nights; stamp collections; 78, 45 and 33 1/3 RPM records; old computers and software (we were early adopters); knick-knacks; school books, report cards, awards, trophies and artworks; even kitchen things like the plastic plates with built in egg cups, cookbooks (including the hand-written ones) and all that 70s Tupperware in olives, browns and burnt orange.

The temptation is to hold on to all these things (well, perhaps not the 70s Tupperware!) because of the memories. But holding on to them now means just delaying the inevitable. Those treasured items that don’t get tossed into the skip bin today will simply be tossed into a skip bin sometime in the future, and in the meantime they have to be stored. We don’t have a big enough house to keep all the things that tug at my heart strings and say “Remember when…”. Having been through this same task with my grandparents’ house years ago, I knew we just had to let go. Too many of the things we sorted through over the last couple of weekends were things we sorted 16 years ago when clearing out Granny’s house, and decided were too precious to throw out. Now most of those things have gone into the skip, like they should have back then.

But there is a way to make the process of letting go not quite so painful and final. As we sorted, when I came across something that I didn’t want to let go of quite yet, I took a photo. Those photos are going into Historian, where I’ll take the time to note down what the object is and what it means to me. I’ll record those stories, and then I’ll upload the photos to my Forever account where they’ll become a permanent record. I’ll be able to share those photos with my family, and make scrapbook pages with them, and we’ll be able keep those memories alive without the clutter! Granted, I did bring home a couple of boxes of things I want to keep, but in a month or two, I’ll be going through those boxes and taking some more photos and doing some more culling. And unlike the thousands of photos we have sorted through and will sort through at Dad’s, these ones will be accessible long into the future, organised and tagged so they’re easy to find when they’re wanted, with the names, dates and stories attached. What a blessing to have cameras, Historian and Forever storage to help make letting go that much easier!

Page by Alison. #p2PDesertDuningBP. Stitches in Time by Lucky Girl Creative. Font: Amperzand.


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17 Responses to Blog: Letting go?

  1. Jan says:

    I can totally relate, Alison. Such a bittersweet time…. I have a whole Historian folder of Mom’s ‘treasures’ and their stories. xx

  2. Cheryl says:

    I too have been taking photos and writing stories of “things” we want to remember but don’t necessarily need to keep. I’ve also been doing it for things we are keeping so future generations know why we kept it. Someone once told me this process is like peeling an onion – you need to do it one layer at a time. As we come back to items we kept in the past we may now realize it’s time to peel that layer away and no longer physically hold on to the item. Good Luck with your process.

  3. Terry Vachowski says:

    This is so amazing, Alison! I had recently come to the same conclusion about some of my “stuff” that I didn’t want to part with but which I just no longer used, so I was taking photos of them to do a page some day. Thanks!

  4. Karen says:

    The letting go is very difficult. In 2000, my 102 year old grandmother was moved into an assisted living facility and my Dad and his wife built a new home on the family farm, then sold the farm. My grandparents purchased the farm in depression times so there were lots of memories and lots of lean times there. Unfortunately we did not get pictures from inside the house and barns before the farm changed ownership. Take all the pictures you can. Will look forward to seeing pages from your book when you have the time to scrapbook.

  5. farmwifek says:

    How timely this was. We moved my dad last July into a 1 level house after he fell in his 2-story house. We are now going through the old house to get it ready to sell. Every Saturday my sister and I go and work. It is very difficult as my mom and brother are both gone and coming across their memories can be very hard. I like the idea of taking pictures of those things you want to remember but just can’t keep. Someday I would like to get a Forever account but I’m holding off b/c living in the country our internet is so slow. It has taken me since November to back up my Artisan content and it still has over 7000+ files to go. So, I’m not sure how to do it and not take forever……Good luck with cleaning out your dad’s house. I totally understand and will be so glad when this job is done. It’s like a black cloud hanging over my head. Any suggestions on how to get my 47,000+ photos into Forever without taking forever would be helpful.

    • Alison says:

      Oh, a big job, but you will get there step by step. In terms of getting photos into Forever, I would say set a regular time and upload a folder at a time. Perhaps set a batch to upload last thing each night? You can check on them in the morning to see if there were any problems, but you don’t have to sit waiting for it to happen. Use your tags in Historian to keep track of which ones have been uploaded. Good luck!

  6. Cindy says:

    This is a great idea. I’ve taken a few photos of things we’ve “discovered” while getting ready to move after 31 years in our current house. I know we’ll be doing the same thing in a few years for my parents. Now I just have to do it!

  7. Bobbie says:

    It’s a tough job to sort and “let go”. After losing both of my parents in 2015, I’m finally “finishing”. I’ve learned to take pictures and scrapbook pages about them. Not quite as big of a job as yours since my mom was in a nursing home and dad was in assisted living. The hard part is the photos of people that obviously met something to them but no names or dates. Good Luck!!

  8. This is exactly what I am going through now. ( for the past 8 years). It is also the main reason I signed up with Forever. I have a closed Facebook group (family Members) that I am enlisting in helping with this very overwhelming project. May I repost your blog to that page? ( I haven’t a clue how to do it, but I thought I would ask permission before I attempted it.)

    • Alison says:

      Thanks for asking Marlene. You are most welcome to share. The easiest way is to just copy the url from the browser bar at the top of this page and paste that link on your page.

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