Down the Lane: Garage cleaning leads to memory lane

My husband, Eric, was off work this week for spring break.

I told him about two jobs I wanted to make sure he did while he was off. One of the tasks was fixing some loose brick on our steps, which was on the to-do list for six months or more. I was afraid someone coming into my home might fall and get hurt or sue me.

He got the jobs done I had on his list, but he had one on his list for me: Cleaning out the garage.

Of course, when he decides to do something, I just as well forget what my plans were for the day because I will have to be involved. He doesn’t tell me the day before. He decides, and I have to be all ready to help.

I do not know why it is, but when men are doing a job, they seem always to include their wife too. They need us to “bring me this” or “hand me that” — you ladies know.

However, this was something in which I needed to be involved. I have gone to the trash cans and found things I did not want to throw away. Let’s say that did not go over so well.

This week It was going through totes in the garage and deciding on whether to keep, throw away or give away. It was a job that needed doing but was pretty difficult for me since as a crafter, you can always find a need for things even if it is just a small ribbon.

Doing this kind of job brought back so many memories as I once again watched my life unfold before me.

One of the totes held nothing but pictures. Like I have mentioned before, I heard as a young child that people wished they had taken more pictures of their loved ones and I vowed it would not be me and it has not been.

Each year I begin a picture album in January and fill it up by December. Around the time I was sick from cancer, many of my pictures found themselves in this tote. I have spent a lot of money on photos through the years but few I regret taking.

I was able to relive trips and fun times with friends and our camping group. I remembered how much fun we all had doing so much together and making up reasons for parties to be together. It was no wonder we named ourselves “The Good Times Bunch.” Our pictures are proof of those good times.

The people who have become a vital part of my life were those I enjoyed seeing the most. I felt a twinge of pain as I looked at pictures of loved ones. They brought back so many feelings of love for them, as now they have passed on.

I remembered the special moments we spent with our grandchildren and how quickly they have grown up.

One of our grandchildren, Stephenie, had a birthday this week and I made her a memory box from some of the pictures. Her daddy died from cancer, and he and her mom had divorced when she was young. Though they remained on great terms, I know it did her heart good to see pictures of them and her life with them. She seemed to be very happy with the memory box, and I loved watching as she looked at herself as a baby. I had to laugh when she remarked, “I was a cute baby wasn’t I?”

She also remarked to me, with a smile on her face, “I have never seen these pictures ever before.” It’s funny how we take them and are the only ones to see them. Stephenie is now 25 and a teacher for third graders. She is still one of the most beautiful ladies you will meet.

As I continued going through pictures, I watched as I aged before my eyes. My hair had turned from nearly black to what it is now. I thought of each episode of my life in those pictures that all looked so happy and mostly were. With happiness came sadness and the reminder life was not always perfect throughout the years. Luckily, my photos brought me back to the best years of my life.

To date, I have made six memory boxes. My sister and sister-in-law got one this year for their birthdays and seemed to love them. I also enjoyed watching them look at the pictures. In addition to Stephenie, I made one for our grandsons, Ryan and Hunter Staton, and am trying to make one for each grandchild.

My husband and I have enjoyed many years of fun times together. The pictures reminded me of the years we seemed to have the world by the tail and others were of our not knowing what we would do next.

We have done things many couples only dream of getting to do. We also have had to worry like many others do, until the next paycheck came. Through it all, our love has grown for one another.

Hopefully, I will continue on my quest and get a lot of pictures into memory boxes during the year. I hope to make the recipient as happy as those pictures have made me.

I do not want my pictures to be dumped in a trash can one day when someone may enjoy seeing the pictures of themselves from a long time ago. If you see a picture stuck on me as I walk around town, you will know I am just into making memory boxes.

Since Stephenie is now a teacher, I was able to get rid of some school supplies and things I used when I taught in Bible schools and a class of 4-year-olds. I was happy they were finally going to good use once more. After all, that is why I had hung on to it all these years wasn’t it?

I know someday those purses with handles will come back in style and everyone is going to try to get those. Oh well, someone is going to be happy they were able to get them from a thrift store. I bet they would cost three times more now to purchase them.

It is funny how cleaning the garage out only meant getting rid of my stuff. To my knowledge, Eric did not get rid of any of his things except a few clothes. I am, however, glad it was his idea that day to clean out the garage. If it were mine, we would still be waiting for it to get done. The garage could probably stand another day of emptying.

Spring does mean spring cleaning. I have lots of things to catch up on, and I am trying to spring clean. It may take me into winter to get it all done though.

Maybe you also need to clean out the garage and renew some old memories.

If nothing else, look back at some pictures and smile, smile, smile.

Sue Staton is a Clark County native who grew up in the Kiddville area. She is a wife, mother and grandmother who is active in her church, First United Methodist Church, and her homemakers group, Towne and Country Homemakers.