Tuesday, 23 August 2011

Genealogy notes 21-23 August 2011 Rubbish As Memories

Sunday saw our little family catchup where we shared memories of days gone by and discussed what we might do this coming Christmas, our next family catchup. Afterwards I took the rubbish down to the bins (Mum lives in a complex and the bins had already been taken down to the front for collection the next morning). By random chance I opened the first bin that had been placed on the kerb and it was full of videos. While rummaging through other peoples' bins is not something that I normally do, in this case I couldn't help myself.

One of the titles had caught my eye - 'Joan's 80th birthday'. Joan was my mother's neighbour and she was a very interesting person in her 90s who we had got to know over Christmas/New Year 2009 when I spent quite a few hours with Joan looking into her family history. It was an interesting and well known family so I was able to show Joan various websites and she was so enthusiastic. So why were her videos and other personal items in the rubbish bin?

For various reasons, Joan's family had recently decided that she could no longer live alone, taking care of herself and so she had to leave her townhouse. Unfortunately we never got to say goodbye and by the time we arrived the unit was being cleaned out, ready for lease to someone else. I'm not sure who cleaned the unit out, whether it was the family or someone they paid to come in and do it. Whoever it was simply put a lot of her possessions in the rubbish bin. As we gazed into the bin we could see various aspects of Joan's life and interests just waiting to be taken away. Perhaps the family already had copies of the more important videos and had taken the more significant family items away already. I certainly hope so.

It depressed me, and still does, to think that when we are gone, or no longer able to care for ourselves, that all we hold significant, might simply be thrown into a rubbish bin. It is one of the reasons I wrote Your Family History Archives: A Brief Introduction and why I give a talk based around the book at various genealogy events. It is to remind my fellow genealogists and family historians to think about the future and what will happen to their own research and records at the end of the day.

Monday saw us fly back home to Melbourne and I'm happy to say that the weather here has been really lovely with sunny, blue skies although a little colder than Brisbane. There was a small mountain of mail which we are slowly working our way through, after dealing with all the bills first!

Tuesday was also a catch up day on various domestic chores, including a visit to the dentist and the builders were in. I have finally got around to putting doors on my study so that everyone will no longer see how much 'stuff' I have in there. Having been away for quite a bit since last April, the study needs a big clean up!

The one thing that I did achieve today was to finalise an update to my talk on Archives You May Not Know But Should which I am giving at the Maryborough (Victoria) Family History Fair on Sunday 28 August 2011.

Tomorrow I am going to write my 'writing family history' blog and start to catch up on emails, blogs and tweets I have put on hold over the last few months. I wonder if my life will ever really be 'normal'?

1 comment:

  1. It is sad to think of the items in the bin. So many photo albums and other family things get thrown away.

    It is something I think about as I have no children and after my Mother goes no family who would be interested in my things.

    Your book has been very useful. I have been considering what could happen with my research and how to document this this for my executors.