Shredding the Past

Summertime brings on projects. I vow every summer to be lazy, but as I sit and read I can sometimes hear my Mother’s voice, “don’t just sit there reading. Get up and do something.”

So this past week I’ve taken on the monumentally boring task of shredding fourteen years worth of documents. I’m grateful the task isn’t as daunting as the last time. After hauling around numerous shoeboxes of cancelled checks and old bills and receipts from house to house for years, I decided I had better uses for all that attic space.

I bought a little shredder that could only manage three sheets of paper at a time and no staples! I bribed my boys with treats if they would separate the bills into sheets of three so I could keep feeding the machine. It was a tedious process, and took me two weeks of shredding between caring for the boys, and my infant daughter to get rid of all the paper.

Thankfully, I bought a heavy-duty shredder last year. It will tear through eighteen sheets of paper at a time. It shreds credit cards, too. I quickly worked through the recent stuff, then took a deep breath and opened the large black garbage bag that has been sitting in the garage for the past three years.

As I sat on the floor feeding the machine, I glanced at some of the cancelled checks and notes. These were the last remnants of my first marriage. Old loans, paperwork for the van, a warranty deed on one of our houses, cancelled checks from our joint account.

I had thrown all of this in a bag as I sought to remove all traces of our union. But tucked between the bills were Christmas lists that each child wrote, notes written to Mom from a child, and hand drawn Mother’s Day cards.

It was time to let go of the past, and in some cases get rid of the parts that hurt, but the evidence of our union stares back at me from the dinner table each evening: three unique and remarkable young people who share our DNA.

© annettealaine-2012

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