The boxes are gone and all that remains are a shell. Such is the world of an empty apartment.
Olive Evans has left the building … well, she left in January, but her possessions remained, until now!
Olive now resides in a place that can accommodate her physical limitations – which are minimal. At 97 she is still very active.
Our mom has a cozy little spot, she could not take many or all of her treasures with her. The task of removing the items she calls her own was left to our family. And it can be a hard thing to do, the shutting down of one’s home after 20 years or more in one location.
Olive moved into Regina the year after our father passed away. Dad died on May 19th, 1996, mom came into Regina in 1997.
She has called the Prince Charles apartments in downtown Regina home since then.
You might imagine the treasures of someone that has lived through 9 decades!
We found more than a few. Some of them dating to when she was under the age of 5 years. Items that she held dear were; our report cards, family documents, birthday, anniversary and sympathy cards. News paper clippings from all the big events; royal visits and weddings, deaths even retirements – including that of Saskatchewan Roughrider Scott Schultz! (Yes, Scott, it is you shedding a tear in a Leader Post clipping. Your business was her insurance brokerage.)
You and I might throw away in intervals, such things as power and phone bills, Olive kept them neatly in folders. RSP and a variety of investment information all saved – envelope and all. Most came with notes attached to them.
Plastic bags that were dissolving contained baby clothes, photo albums of relatives that have been gone for decades. Records of not just her family tree but of my father’s. All valuable information when tracing back to your ancestors.
The wonderful thing of this process is seeing, reading and understanding a bit more about our mom.
She loved teaching. She kept all kinds of books from her time in “normal” or “teachers college”. We have the secretary notes from meetings of the Findlater United Church, documents of expenditures from our farm and the many diaries she kept. Letters from our father when they weren’t married and from his stay in the Toronto General Hospital.
Letters from cousins, family friends, businesses, contests and in a few cases complete strangers that spent time at the Evans’ farm due to some unforeseen circumstance. We once had CBC do a documentary on modern homes – I think the year was 1963 or ’64.
Our grandfathers’ and father’s memories live on in books of condolences. There are pictures and pictures through the ages of all of us and friends (some we don’t know who they are!).
After 2 solid weeks of removing the contents of her apartment, it has all found a place, somewhere!
And in saying this, I can tell you, that Olive has asked about the whereabouts of those contents. The ask is not one of bewilderment. It is one of true concern that the items are safe and that the right person will be the keeper them. And there are stories to be told about these things.
We have found girlish curls from a very young Olive. We have found one dollar bills, twos and fivers, 50’s and 100’s. Money that was situated here and there, now collected neatly in a money box!
Our reality now is sifting through all these items a second time. Items that can be donated or repurposing in some form.
Who else can do this sort of thing? I’m sure the boys in your family would hate this sort of task!
I believe that our dad is currently watching my sister, Lynette and I and laughing; “you two haven’t worked so hard and girls here is your lesson. “CLEAR OUT THE CLUTTER.””
I attended a funeral this Saturday and the words that sunk in the most were about appreciating the people and things you have around you at this immediate time. Things do not last. Moments don’t last. I understand that attaching yourself to things may give you comfort in not forgetting dates or the event itself. Time is too fleeting and you should not let THINGS define who and what you are. (WHAT ADVICE!)
Olive is and remains an amazing woman, mother and wife / widow. She was an attentive teacher, community person, steward of the land, gardener & homemaker. She was and remains independent and lovely. There are things she taught us and we hope she is proud of how we continue to walk her legacy of charity and good will.
And mom, you’ve got some shredding to do!