My absolute boredom throughout covid with being housebound brought me to de-clutter my home office and rehome what I’ve collected over the years. Slowly I’ve cleared paper files I’ve held onto for much longer than necessary. I’ve shredded paper bills and health forms, discarded letters, notes, and forms related to the kids’ high school sports, found pencils and pens that needed sharpening or tossing. I also unearthed a 1st grade cassette tape of my son learning to read. His teacher recorded her students at intervals throughout the year for sharing their reading progress with parents and of course to provide a sweet momento of our little ones’ voices. I no longer own a cassette player so I tuck this memory back in my desk for another day.

Spilling out of their files and completely filling my bottom desk drawer are stories and poems I’ve written over the years. They rest alongside the rejection letters so thoughtfully crafted saying ‘thanks, but no thanks.’ I feel a tug toward these manuscripts to re-read their pages and perhaps critique with a new eye. The butterfly is loose as I flutter through these familiar pages that engulfed me once upon a time ago. My boredom now pushed aside, I feel a trickle of energy looking for a home. These pages should no longer rest in the closed recesses of my desk. How did I ignore these characters who sat so close to me?

Hiding within the pages of one folder, several handwritten cards catch my eye and upon opening the first, my mother fills the room. Her neat and expressive swirly script dances across a small notecard she sent me in 2004. I feel her pressence as I hold these cards that somehow made a home amongst my writing files.

In her broad penstrokes, my mother thanks me for inviting her to my daughter’s birthday party. She writes of how big my son has grown and how sweet he is. She describes her love for her sons-in-laws and is happy my sister and I both have each other and our families. In another note she thanks my sister and me for giving her the very best Mother’s Day gift by simply being at her house, just the three of us, like when we were young. How well I grasp her sincerity and appreciation-today it takes a big holiday for my family of four to gather under the same roof. And I realize our four will grow in the coming years. This makes me so very happy but I would imagine a mother’s longing desire to have just one more day with her babies.

Observing the dates, my mother was writing to me during the last few years she was alive and never could I have known these sentiments would be her last. I have a habit of slipping special notes and cards in places for me to rediscover later. In one suitcase I keep an old anniversary card from my husband and I reread it each time I pack in that bag. In random books I find notes from friends or a card that made me smile when I first received it and once again upon revelation. These are little gifts I give myself reminding me how important I am to someone and they to me.

I have no recollection of putting my mothers handwritten cards and notes in my writing files. Did I know I would return one day to these ‘fixer uppers’ and find her beautiful cursive swirls safely saved here? Perhaps. My de-cluttering exercise left me feeling lighter. And inspired. And less bored with my surroundings. I feel obligated to address every piece of writing staring back at me asking for another go round. With a little dusting and polishing, tightening or expanding I may find a home for a few of these old friends.


  1. We’ve decluttered over the past year and been to recycling too many times to count. But, I too have those special cards and mementos that I always have a place for. There is a postcard with my granddaughter’s photo on it that is twenty years old that is neatly tucked into a pocket in a leather portfolio that I take to a meeting if I need to jot some notes. I always pull that card out and enjoy the moment.

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  2. What a lovely heartfelt post. I wish I could be like you and declutter my life too. It seems one year of quarantine is not enough for me to achieve that. And this reminded me of my special bookmark: the USA visa from my only trip there in the 90’s torn out from my old passport. For some reason it always meant so much to me.

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