Wednesday, February 23, 2011

A few tactile prompts

I have several boxes of material to help my memoir in progress. They are filled with papers, Velcro, a worn Scrabble game, a football and an assortment of toys.

The objects have traveled from Georgia to North Carolina to Texas to Colorado.

Why keep these things?

Just holding one item can take me back to a very different time in my life. I purged some of the items in Texas, because I realized I didn't need a dozen bank boxes filled with documents and mementos to help me finish a memoir. I cut the boxes in half with my shredding and recycling efforts.

Some of the items I kept to spark a memory and to keep me focused include:
  • Mail — my late husband Jimmy received a large assortment of cards and letters from friends and strangers. The strangers were primarily nice folks, but there were a few prison inmates in the box. 
  • Medical bills — the bills and the notes I scribbled on them tell the story of my struggle to keep track of insurance payments, co-pays and out-of-pocket expenses for hospitals, emergency rooms, nursing homes and ambulances. 
  • Small items — toys and special gifts provided to Jimmy remind me of the people who loved him so much whether it was a special beaded cross or a bag of snowman poop. They are reminders that he was loved. 
The items I kept evoke an array of emotions — sadness, rage, happiness and fear. It's crazy how just holding one piece of paper can not only remind you of an event, but also take you back to that moment. These little things are a great help while writing.

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