Thursday, April 16, 2015

A Month of Memories by Linda Hubalek

Instead of a post relating to a western topic this month, I decided to write something personal. I think it helps readers see us writers are affected by everyday events like everyone else, except we may work our life events into a story we might write in the future.

It's been a month of memories for me, both good, bad, and sad as I clean out my parent's home of their final belongings. Both were now in the nursing home and the material existence of their sixty-nine years together had to be reduced to fit in a few plastic tubs of keepsakes.

Mom was a "paper saver" so every childhood event program the four of us kids were ever in was saved, along with canceled checks of major purchases, recipes clipped from magazines, greeting cards going back to over fifty years ago, to snapshots from the 1920's to present day.

Everyday events listed on pieces of papers told the history of my parent's marriage and as us children were added to the family. The history of previous generations were also revealed from the photos and documents mom saved from her and my father's parents and grandparents too.

It's easy to see where my ideas for stories come from when handling my family's paper trail.

The check stubs I found from 1919 showed the final dispersal of money to the children of Samuel and Charlotta Johnson, who I based my Planting Dreams series on.

The material scraps my grandmother was using for quilt blocks is still in the same shoe box she put them in before she suddenly died in 1946. Quilts made by her and her ancestors were worked into my Trail of Thread  series.

Photos of the wagon my newlywed parents used to haul their meager belongings from their town apartment to their newly rented farm in 1946, were studied and described in my great grandparent's trip from Kansas to the Indian Territory in my Tying the Knot book.

And this same wagon, saved and rebuilt by a grandson, was used to carry my father's casket to his final resting place last week.

You can bet this event will be mentioned in a future story of mine too.


  1. Finalizing your parents move to a nursing home by digging into their belongings certainly seems a sad undertaking, Linda. Funny isn't it, what people choose to save as memories and tokens of their lives and the ones they love? It warmed my heart when I found a paper bag filled with every letter and card I ever wrote them after they died. It said I was important to them and they loved me. I know you must have treasured the calendars your parents saved with all the important dates written on them.
    All the best to you, Linda.

  2. Linda--I believe you must be my long-lost twin. At least we had carbon-copy mothers.
    Everything you mentioned, down to the quilt squares in a box, boxes and boxes of saved bows, ribbon, and wrapping paper, calendars with every event, going back 20 years, even listing the days she was sick or Daddy broke his ankle, every card and letter any of us ever sent.....
    Maybe it's the inherent soul of a female to save and store up.
    My sisters and I spent a month cleaning out a big house, barn, and storage shed, sorting and selling.
    In the end, each of the 3 of us took home what was ours...yes, to box up and keep and save.
    I've told all my friends--be sure your belongings don't contain something you would not want your children to know.
    Sometimes you might find something you would not want anyone else to know.
    I took my share of photos and cards and letters--even every note or card sent to my parents from our son and daughter, and made scrapbooks. One for me, one for our daughter, and one for our son. They treasure these as I treasure mine.
    Thank you for sharing this with us. It touched my heart.

  3. Hi Sarah and Celia,
    Oh yes, my mother would cringe if she knew I read certain things that she kept. But the sweet letters from their courting days were fun- to think of them as "in love" twenty-year-old's instead of ninety-year old parents. I saved several plastic tubs worth of special things from three generations that mom had saved. It's my history too! Thanks for your notes.


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