Summer Hiking

Summer Hiking
Mt. Constitution

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Working on my Archives

I had the opportunity to work in my brother, Larry's office this week and he encouraged me to "bring something to do" because it might be quiet and a little boring for me.  When he's out of the office it is very quiet and the phone hardly rings and no clients come in for scheduled appointments.  I thought it might be a good time to go through some of my boxes of treasures and throw things away.  I started with an old Bekins moving box labelled "High School and Wedding stuff."  Louisiana Pacific Corporation paid for our move from Lake Oswego, Oregon to Santa Rosa, California, in 1974 and I'm quite sure I haven't looked in the box since then.

The box is now empty and I had a great trip down memory lane as I unpacked it.  I found a box with pieces of wedding cake, our wedding cake topper, letters Roy and I wrote to each other in the early 1960's, diaries, holy cards, report cards, love notes from grade school, a First Communion Candle, and SGA mimeographed newsletters called the Signal.

I wondered why I saved all the holy cards.

Some had names of the nuns who'd given them to me and why.  I won several Catechism contests and got "stars" for spelling papers.  And medals - lots of those, too!  I think Mom encouraged me to save some things, but 55 years later I'm still wondering why.

So between phone calls at Larry's office I organized my archives.  I threw a lot of stuff away, but when I got to the letters I just couldn't do it.  Perhaps because a hand-written word is rare today, with texting and Email and such.  I found notes that my brothers and sisters and Mom wrote right after they brought me to Spokane to live with the Higgins family in the fall of 1964.  I found a letter I'd written to Carole after she returned from all those tests in the Mayo clinic in 1965.  I found little notes that my children wrote to me for Mother's day.  Some made me laugh out loud, others brought tears to my eyes.  When I realized I could never read all the letters I'd saved I decided to organize them by writer into file folders.  I'm sure I'll enjoy reading them when I live in a nursing home or when I can't walk anymore.  They are my history and history of the Kopczynski family.  Carole wrote several letters to me when Connie, Joan, and Don were teenagers and pre-teens.  She talked about their battles with Mom and Dad and how mad everyone was at each other.  Those letters from Carole are real treasures now.  And the notes from Dad - rare, but either typed or printed!  It seems that he never learned cursive!  And the notes always indicated he was praying for me or had others, like the Benedictines in Schuyler, Nebraska, praying for me.  Specifics of all those letters will be a topic for another blog post!!

I found a big zip-lock bag full of cards that my Mom saved for me.  I put off looking at all those cards because I wasn't sure I could handle the emotions that might come from reading them again.

They were mostly Mother's and Father's Day Cards!  I guess they meant enough to Mom to store them for years in a secret hiding place under the drawers in the hallway.  She saved a bag of cards for each child.  I learned that I was really good about sending cards to them and usually wrote a note about how much I learned from them or how much I appreciated their love and sacrifices over the years!  I cut all the handwritten stuff out of the card and put them in a big envelope to take to the Monastery of St. Gertrude.  Some of the older sisters make new cards utilizing donated greeting cards.  I just bought several at the Monastery book store for $. 75 each - quite a bargain!!!  Just wait until I go through saved boxes of sympathy cards I've saved after the deaths of Mom, Dad, and Carole.

I saved lots of calendars, perhaps as another way to document my family's history.

Every ball game, every Dr. appt., every birthday, parish meetings, parties, and family vacations reminded me of what a busy family we were from 1976-1985.  I loved Karen and Duane's notes, SKIING TRIP,  or MALIBU (Young Life Retreat).  These precious calendars, saved for 30 years, finally found their resting place in the garbage can!  I also found two calendars I must've saved just for the pictures because they were never used.  I bought several Hallmark calendars of flower arrangements in the l970's because I liked the prints and even had some framed when we lived in Santa Rosa.  

Whenever I delve into a project like this I take some time to reflect on what it all means to me or why I've been such a hoarder.  Perhaps I saved it all just to have something to do while I sat in Larry's office waiting for the phone to ring.  But more than likely I saved it all to remember the people that touched my life, encouraged me, or thanked me for some little thing I did for them.  I'm delighted my Mom and Carole saved letters I wrote to them.  I learned I'm a pretty good letter writer!  And I have good friends and family who are good letter writers!  Now I'm grateful for the time they took to write all those letters to me.  Joan's letters compile a wonderful history of her education, work, and struggles with mental illness.  Our AFS student, Marit Ulveseth from Norway, spent countless hours, writing in English, her second language, about her family, her work, and her travels. I must have 50 post cards that she sent to us whenever she travelled.  Sister Henriette's letters record the history of change for her order of School Sisters of Notre Dame and her experiences in Rome.  My friends from Tri State Convalescent Center wrote so many cards and letters to me in 1991 when I faced the reality of my divorce, loss of a job, and the decision to stick it out in Boise.  And Jacque Harvey, a Cursillo sister, wrote lots of letters from Saudi Arabia, describing her life there, with a new husband, Harry.  Connie sent me a card and sweet notes every day in the Advent season of 1991.  I'd saved notes from residents and staff I'd had the privilege to serve at Tri State, Capital Care Center, Holly Hills, Grangeville, SunBridge of Meridian, Regency at Northpointe.  I realized how blessed I've been to be a part of a large Catholic family, to have lived in Lake Oswego, Santa Rosa, Clarkston, Boise, and Spokane, to have worked in the long term care industry, to have wonderful friends in a Singles group in Boise, to have made and worked on several Cursillo weekends,  to be a part of several 4th Day Reunion groups, and now to live close to my children and grandchildren.  I've overwhelmed with feelings of gratitude!!

So now I consolidated several R-Kive boxes down to one and organized the letters by writers.  I put little treasures I'd saved for Duane and Karen into files for them and they can decide if they want to keep their old report cards, music programs, Jr Miss clippings, CHS sports programs, term papers, Civic Theatre practice schedules, awards and certificates!  Karen said to me recently, "why would you save a birthday card?"  Well, I did save some that had sweet notes that she wrote to me and her Dad.  I hope she has a moment of reflection and discovers what a sweet child she was and how good she was at telling us how much she loved us.   Duane will probably say, "Good grief" because I saved so many Charlie Brown cards!  I have a big box of treasures for each of them and even some scrapbooks and mementos for their Dad.  

I also cleaned out several drawers in my filing cabinet.  I never receive bills, bank statements, or cancelled checks in the mail anymore, but I'd tucked those away for years in my filing cabinet and now they are in a big box to be shredded!!  It's a great feeling and now I have empty room in my filing cabinet to begin the collection process all over again!!!

My plan is to go through boxes of photos and get those organized somehow.  By family?  By year?  By event?  And should I scan them into IPhoto before I tuck them in a filing cabinet drawer?  I have 20 photo albums, but remember when we'd get duplicates of every picture???  I have boxes of those duplicates because I never got around to putting albums together for my kids.  And I have the school pictures of nieces and nephews, including the high school graduation pictures that could fill an album in itself.  If I ever really do totally retire from work I know I have years of opportunity to continue the work on my archives!  And no one will probably even care to look through the scrapbooks or files,  but the continued work on my archives gives me a lot of joy and fills me with gratitude.  

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