WHAT WE KEEP; WHAT WE THROW AWAY

WHAT WE KEEP, WHAT WE THROW AWAY

I have kept letters, and diaries from my teenage years.
I have saved photographs and thankfully, the negatives.
I have birth certificates and documents that belonged
To both parents and my grandparents.
I have valentines and drawings my children made in school,
Packed in an old trunk. Also inside the trunk
There are newspaper clippings:
Elvis Dies! Mount St Helen Erupts!
Harry Truman is president!
JFK Assassinated!
What I keep is more than this–
I keep people, friendships, memories.

What I throw away is more difficult to define
Because I am not a throwing-away kind of person.
When forced to, I donate boxes of books and knick knacks
To charities. I cannot bring myself to throw away anything
That has any value – whether to myself or
Someone else.
More remarkably, the man I live with
Saves more things than I do.
He always finds a use for some obscure bolt or screw
Stashed somewhere in his workshop.
I am getting better at throwing away
Plastic containers that held margarine or Cool Whip
But I put them into the recycling bin
Feeling I am participating in
A greater cause.

–Sandra Lee Smith

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