Unexpectedly, we came across a cache of Uber son's college memorablia. The family that bought our house last year found a large box cramped under an eave in a remote section of crawl space. It had our name on it.
Paterfamilias and I hauled the very large, dust-coated box to our apartment. We peeled off the packing tape and found, among other things, assorted English Lit novels in bind-broken or yellowed condition, a framed college diploma and several shoe boxes full of photos, letters, college essays and a small, rubberband-bound journal.
We had no qualms about dumping the spoiled books, the college papers and the snapshots that were curling at the edges. But what to do about the journal and the boxes crammed with letters. (Our son went to college in pre-email days.) The stuff was our son's and remembrances of his young adult life. If he lived nearby, we would ask him to come by and dispose of the materials himself. But he doesn't.
Here were our choices: We could trash everything and pretend the box had never surfaced (as well it might never have). Or, we could edit the materials down to travel size and bring the most interesting stuff with us on our next visit to our son and his family.
There is only one way to edit down material--sift through it to see what should be tucked into our suitcase and what should be tossed or shredded. This is where we faced "invasion of privacy" issues. How far along to read the letters to figure out whether they should be saved for further inspection by the person to whom they were addressed. Who was still important enough to him that letters written some 20 years ago would be meaningful.
It was a quease-producing process. The reading gave way to quick looks at return addresses. We plucked a few for posterity--like the one from a professor telling him how much he had enjoyed having our son in his class. The journal, an inscrutable pictograph account of an adventure with college friends, made it into the suitcase. The framed diploma? We texted about it and got a "no thanks." The final treasure was an 8 x 10, framed, color photo of our son with three college teammates, two soccer coaches and one soccer ball. We packed it.
When we finally handed over the curated treasure trove, our son seemed mildly interested in the college prof's letter, greeted the journal with a "hmmmm," and laughed out loud (LOL'd) at the soccer photo. So did his kids. But we have proof that he was really pleased to see it. He posted it on Facebook.
Found in the attic of my parents' house. My kids told me I could share this picture if I managed to crop it enough to not show the mortifying short-shorts (OMG. Dad, put some clothes on!)....