Occassionaly, I enjoy looking at my basket of remembrances
One time I was visiting my mother at her place in Denver. She had a basket by her chair. She said, "These are cards and notes I got after your father died; you can look at them." I said, "OK, I'll look later." And we kept on talking.
I'm not sure I ever looked at the cards but the idea stuck in my mind. And it surfaced after my dear Baheej died.
I got a basket and starting putting in all the cards and letters and emails about Baheej in it. Over the years I've added more sentimental and personal items I've found. Letters, his notebooks, his syllabi from last classes, cards and notes Baheej left for me on special days. I had to switch up to a larger basket. Now it's a very big basket after eight-plus years.
It's strangely comforting knowing all those items are there in his basket. I have it alongside grandfather's rocker, out of the way but accessible. Once in a while I go in there looking for something. Mostly it just sits there.
This is a little like putting out photos of your dear one so he or she is around you. Quietly. It's a good idea.
So one of these days I'm going to go through that basket. It will probably be like a time capsule!
I also have a few old videos when it was popular to take home videos. Those are somewhat unsettling. I don't look at them very often. Too heartbreaking. Too much. Haven't watched most of them for several years. None the last couple years. They make me miss him too much.
I also have a remembrance bowl with many of my favorite photos of the two of us together, on holidays or trips. It's another nice collection I enjoy looking at now and then. Many photos of the children and family are in there as well. The bowl is a pottery piece from one of our many trips to Holland. This one is from Friesland in the far northwest, from a little town called Workum. It's caramel brown color with a white squiggly decoration near the fluted rim. They've been making the same pottery with this design for many centuries. This one we brought home in 1972; it was probably made a couple years before we bought it. It looks just like the ones in the local museum!
The point is: I think one needs to figure out what kinds of remembrances are comforting and which ones are too painful. We need to build some personal defenses and self-protections.
Over the years, I've pretty much figured out what is soothing and what is upsetting, basically things I can cope with and can handle, and those I cannot. This helps, and I think that over time most people figure this out for themselves.
• Susan Anderson-Khleif of Sleepy Hollow has a doctorate in family sociology from Harvard, taught at Wellesley College and is a retired Motorola executive. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org or see her blog longtermgrief.tumblr.com. See previous columns at www.dailyherald.com/topics/Anderson-Kleif-Susan.