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Peg Cushman: Attic is overflowing with portals to past

Our house has a large attic with the usual creaky floorboards, pitched ceiling and windows that display the dancing dust on a sunny day. It’s a place bursting with mementos from the past, each with a sweet memory attached.

Recently I had an urge to reminisce. I began in one corner, where I opened a box of soft, pale blue baby clothes. I hugged them to myself, burying my face in the lingering scent of Ivory Snow. I can still picture my boys in each outfit; their sailor suits were my favorite. I found their small, white, scuffed leather baby shoes and their first unsteady steps right into my arms.

The white wicker rocking chair where I spent hours holding my powder-scented babies sits under a ghostly veil, motionless. Every night at 3 a.m. without fail, they woke up to be fed and changed. I rocked and sang to them until they were once again deep in sleep.

With tears in my eyes, I looked through all of the homemade cards and school art projects given to me with so much love and excitement. Some were torn and rumpled, but still as sweet as ever.

Books with frayed edges from being read and reread sit on a shelf. “Henrietta the Horse” and “Thomas the Train” were among their favorites.

Their once-loved, well-worn stuffed animals peek out from their plastic prison, longing to be hugged again. Curious George, teddy bears and rabbits happily sat on their beds and brought comfort at night.

I found my sons’ numerous sports T-shirts and jerseys. They brought to mind one tennis match in particular, when my older son’s outcome would determine if the team would end the season in first place. He won, and they did. And I recall my younger son’s amazing run in fourth grade. Both memories still make me smile.

I noticed the bench I mistakenly won at an antique auction with my Mom. A bird happened to be flying overhead and christened me, and as I was raising my hand to wipe away the unfortunate droppings, the auctioneer thought I was bidding. Before I knew it, I was the proud owner of an old cane-covered bench.

Our attic also houses some of my own childhood toys, which include a sewing machine, dolls, doll cradles and furniture, a metal ironing board and a baby buggy.

I moved to another corner and found it incredibly sad that Mom’s 94 years were diminished down to a few boxes of treasures, some of which include the beautiful size 0 wedding gown she wore in 1940, my parents’ fragile cake top, black-and-white photos, New York City brochures from their honeymoon, homemade cards given to them by my siblings and me, our baby cards and prayer cards from all the family and friends they lost over the years. I can still feel Mom’s presence as I touch her past possessions.

I want to part with these objects, but I am emotionally attached. The link to the past is strong and I don’t want to forget or sever the ties. But they are simply objects; I will always carry the memories in my heart.

“Only put off until tomorrow what you are willing to die having left undone.” With Pablo Picasso’s quote in mind, my boys will most likely have the chore of recycling, tossing or finding a home for the remaining attic contents I hold dear. My hope is they can share some laughs and reminisce about their lives spent with their sentimental mother, who just could not say goodbye.