Now Is a Great Time To Sort Through That Old Family Stuff!

Sitting at home with time on your hands??

I did some time travel yesterday. I found myself thinking more and more about “what ifs?” Old pictures and long-forgotten letters from my father’s side of the family had accumulated in my attic. I’d long realized much of it would only mean something to me and it was time to sort through it.

Over the years, my dread had accumulated as much as the dust on the boxes. I approached the task thinking that I didn’t wish it on anyone else. As it turned out, it was a very moving journey…

…I found a photo of my father as a 24-year-old Second Lieutenant in 1944 standing in front of Big Ben with three friends on leave from their anti-aircraft battalion (he is the handsome fellow on the right).

…I felt gut-punched when I found a photo from 1945 labeled “Dachau dog kennels” and another photo of several very large urns, more like buckets really, labeled “Dachau ashes.” My dad never really talked about his experiences during the war.

…I’d always known my parents’ marriage to be “stormy.” He’d made the Army a career. I had suspected deployments took a toll on their relationship. Yesterday, in reading letters between them during his long absences, I learned there was a time they were deeply in love. That brought for me a new sense of peace about their lives.

…I found canceled checks from an account with the National Bank of Alaska and realized that my dad sent money to his older sister as she was going through a divorce at a time that I know my parents were struggling to afford the needs of their young family when stationed in Anchorage.

…I saw my drawings and handwriting evolve during my childhood years in going through batches of them my mom mailed to wherever remote location my dad was stationed. I couldn’t believe he saved them all.

…I found my grandfather’s pocket watch chain that has a beautiful pendant of a carved dog’s head. I plan to treasure it as a necklace.

These are only a few of the experiences I am so very grateful for today after traveling back in time through my father’s keepsakes.

I still have a couple of more boxes to go through, but I am going to take my time. Rather than dreading it, I am looking forward to seeing where they take me and recommend a similar field trip for anyone else weighted down by what awaits in the attic!

— R. A. Kroft

R.A. Kroft writes about her day-to-day journey in living a smaller, more sustainable life and other topics that interest her.

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