Packing and Unpacking

I am still settling into my new house and unpacking—seemingly endless boxes—and figuring out what I can let go of, what to keep and where to put things. I have held onto lots of things through the years, including some very random mementos.

Some things have brought back surprising memories as I unpacked them:

My yearbook from Grant Junior High, which reminded me of my ninth-grade English teacher, Mrs. Weng, the teacher who had the greatest impact on my life. I wish I could find her to tell her how grateful I am.

A thank-you note from my niece Kristi when she was four or five (actually, her mother wrote it and Kristi signed it), thanking me for sewing her Halloween costume, which I don’t even remember. Kristi now has a four-year-old daughter.

The hand-embroidered doilies I got from Iwona, a Polish girl I lived with at l’Arche Calgary in 1990. Who could have known then that I would visit Poland nineteen years later?

So many pictures—some in albums and some in shoe boxes—going back to my parents’ dating days.

Cards and letters spanning more than fifty years, including post cards from a girl who lived four houses away from me—we were probably in third grade when she sent these post cards while on vacation at her cottage.

And love letters from a guy I met on a trip to upstate New York shortly after college. It was the summer of the Seneca Women’s Encampment for a Future of Peace and Justice. I went to support a college friend, and I met Ross. He was such a romantic, and his letters are beautiful.

I know that most of my things have little or no intrinsic value, but right now, in this difficult time of transition, they have great value to me. While I am feeling disconnected, they anchor me to myself, offering me connections to my life and a sense of my personal history. I am deeply grateful for them.


5 thoughts on “Packing and Unpacking

  1. Marie Morrissey


    Enjoy the treasures that you have collected over the years.  One of the things I found in going through my mother’s treasures was the birth announcement my parents sent after my birth.  I’m holding on to it.

    So glad that Detroit is at your side and taking care of you.  It sounds like you are beginning to settle into your new surroundings.  Take each day as it comes.  That is what keeps me going these days.

    I enjoy your blogs and feel it keeps us in touch.  Thank you.

  2. Madeline Bialecki Post author

    Anne Marie, I love revisiting the first event and then listening for the news this event is presenting to me. I went through all my letters because of a Henri Nouwen letters project; he saved my letters to him and they asked if I had saved his to me. Evidently I had not (since I cannot find them) but I had save the love letters. It was wonderful to have this man express such beautiful ideas to me about me. I read them again now and think, “I am that same person.” It reminded me of Jim saying to me one day during his illness, “You are gold.” And then I remind myself that that is how God sees me–and ask if I can hear it and take it in.


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