Sunday, July 01, 2007

Being Like Our (Ugh) Parents

A few years ago, not too long before my mother died, I was picking on her about her "address book." It was probably 20 years old or older. Leather, originally nice. Pocket sized.

And so stuffed with business cards and pieces of paper and Post-it Notes and the torn-off corners of envelopes, she held it together with a rubber band.

Most of the stuff in it was old and outdated, but she never cleaned it out. I couldn't understand why. She didn't even have to take hours to do it--just throw away one bit at a time that was no longer applicable. Anyway, I laughed at her for her pack-rat tendencies and her inability to let go of the past.


I'm not quite to the level she was (of course, I'm 20 years younger, so I haven't accumulated as much). But the address book I use is the one I bought back in college, which was 15 years ago. Until recently, I had phone numbers on slips of paper and a few torn-off envelope corners, mostly from preschool friends of Number One's, kids she'll never see again. I finally sorted through them (less than a dozen, rather than the 249 my mother had) and threw them away or wrote in the information.

But I have a better understanding for the reasons she kept everything. I mean, the main reason I've kept this is because even though the Js (for Jacobus, my father's side of my family) and the Ds (for Damschroder) are full, due to the frequent moving over the years, I still have a ton of space in here. Almost every letter has a few pages still empty.

It's also handy. I never converted it to the computer because I don't want to have to boot it up and launch the software just to address an envelope.

But there's another reason, and I don't like to admit it because it makes it seem like I'm growing old.

Remember those ridiculous nostalgia posts a short while back? I remembered Vince's last name is Scarpetti, but I wasn't sure how to spell Peter's last name (it's an "e" instead of an "a"). I didn't remember Jeanne's last name, and some people I'd forgotten their names entirely (like Joanne Torma-Kelly, our old neighbor in New Buffalo). Even though the attached information is no longer helpful, the names are. They're a connection to my past, a past I've let go of, that rarely surfaces (except in my dreams, and then it's never accurate).

I like paging through the memories that float up when I see Mark Daley's name, or Sharon Lank's. So I think I'll be keeping this address book forever.

Sorry I picked on you, Mom.


Vicky B said...

LOL - My address book is exactly the same. I've had it for nearly forty years. I do have addresses on the computer, but this book is where I turn when I want to look someone up. As I look through the pages, I look through the past. The memories of friends and relatives long gone; of people who touched my life. Every time I look at it, I think I should get a new one. And I've even gone so far as to buy one or two. But I never use them. And my old one is still here.

Natalie Damschroder said...

Every day you reveal something that makes you more and more like my mother! LOL 'Cept you're younger.