We’ve been in Saskatoon this week helping my 94-year-old aunt move into a personal care residence. We had two days to sort through all her belongings and pick and choose just a few things to go into her new small living quarters.
My aunt was a record keeper. She had a journal for every year noting interesting or good things about each day. She had ledgers where she tracked virtually every penny she’d spent since she got her first teaching pay cheque in 1943. She had journals and photograph albums cataloguing her travels around the world. She had a stack of guest books signed by the hundreds of people who visited her home. She had folder upon folder with notes pertaining to speeches she had given, volunteer work she had done, committees she had served on and events she had planned. She had photo albums chronicling the life of her family, her friends, her plants and her needlework projects. We even found boxes full of notecards where she recorded the meals she made for people so she didn’t ever serve them the same thing twice on their visits to her home. She had autograph books, address books, year books, birthday books and boxes and boxes full of cards she had received.
Of course it was impossible to keep all of these items for space reasons and even if we could have, my aunt’s eyesight has become very poor and the tiny written script in most of her notebooks and journals and the old small black and white photos in many of her albums would not be accessible to her.
I felt very sad and somewhat guilty about having to get rid of this record of my aunt’s life but someone wisely reminded me that all those journals and albums had already served their purpose. My aunt had enjoyed compiling them and she had enjoyed reminiscing whenever she read them and reread them and looked at them. In 2011 she used them to write and publish a detailed illustrated autobiography which will act as a lasting reminder of her interesting and fulfilling life.
I too am a record keeper and chronicler but for many years already my journalling has been done electronically on this blog and in computer files. So when it is my turn to go into the personal care home my children will not need to spend days and days getting rid of my records. They will just need to press delete.