Sometimes you remember, sometimes you forget

1995 was a long time ago, before my daughter was born. It’s remarkable only as the year I had a miscarriage, which isn’t a small thing, but turned out to be a very good thing. I hadn’t really come to terms with the idea of having a baby when I got pregnant the first time, so I was more than a little conflicted about the news. I confess that I was ultimately relieved when the drama of the situation was resolved, and a few months later, when I found out I was pregnant again, I was thrilled. I rarely think about the miscarriage. It moved into the past and became a memory, like so many other things that happen in our lives.

Lately, I’ve been indulging in one of my favorite pastimes, throwing things out at my mother’s house. I’m not being cruel; my parents are fully on board. We pick a cabinet, or a drawer, and go through it, tossing out old bank statements and assorted papers from decades long past. Mom bought a shredder to help with the paper purging and it’s been a boon to our efforts. Unfortunately, you can’t shred frozen food.

When we decided to clean out the freezer, we ended up with two huge plastic bags for the garbage. It was astonishing to see how much that freezer could hold. In my house, we have a traditional refrigerator with a small freezer compartment on the top. Mom’s refrigerator has side-by-side doors and the left side is all freezer. We started at the top shelf where the ice cream and dessert things live. Ice cream gets turned around fairly quickly in their house, but the cookie dough she had purchased to support a high school soccer team several years ago had to go.

The next shelf had frozen vegetables; most of which went the way of the cookie dough. The freezer is so deep that it’s hard to tell what’s in it. I don’t blame her for thinking she needed peas—every time she went to the supermarket. Once something was put in front of the most recent bag of peas, like whole cranberries for a Thanksgiving project that never came to fruition, it receded from memory. Really, I understand how that happens. It was the next shelf that was truly fascinating.

The first package of meat I pulled out was steak from 2010. I was shocked. My mother, slightly embarrassed, argued that it was probably still good, because after all, it had been frozen. I disagreed and out it went. Next up was hamburger meat from 2005. She allowed as how that was, perhaps, a bit over the line and didn’t argue when I tossed it. Next up was chicken dated 1998. By now we had moved on from shock and awe to gleeful laughter. But we weren’t done yet. The pièce de résistance was a whole chicken from—1995.

That whole, frozen, chicken was older than my now seventeen-year-old daughter. And she’s not the only thing that came into our lives after that chicken. My sister produced another grandchild; we bought a new house; presidents came and went. The world turned and things happened; good things and bad things, funny things and sad things. And most of them are now distant memories. Our family has been under a lot of stress recently. We look forward to the day when our memories of this time will dim. In the meantime, that chicken provided us with a much needed laugh; a funny memory we’ll be happy to keep alive.

Now it’s time to go shopping, again. This time, Mom really does need peas.

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18 responses to “Sometimes you remember, sometimes you forget

  1. Hah! I kept frozen breast milk from 1996 in my freezer, even through two moves, and finally threw it out after the child for whom it been pumped turned 15.

  2. This post really made me smile, while chaos is unfolding around me! Thanks.

  3. Ha Ha! I try to keep my freezer and fridge clean of the old crap but just this weekend I found two bottles of unidentifiable items and one with two bits of relish in it.

  4. I purged my pantry this summer. I was astonished at how old some of the stuff was in the back, way up high. Nothing quite as bad as 18 year-old chicken, though. Still, it made me think about how fast time slips by.

    Love your blog. Even when I don’t comment, I read it on my phone (which is why I don’t comment)!

  5. Coulda been worse. I have a sister-in-law who lets her son keep his dead pets in the freezer: parakeets, mice, RATS, etc.

  6. Oh, and it’s great your mom is better!

  7. HA! That reminded me of when my mom helped me clean my freezer just before I moved to Vermont. She found Abraham’s placenta in a ziploc bag… he was 5 years old. She freaked out a bit.

  8. HAHA……I really was able to relate to your blog……your mom must have come out of the Depression like my mom and mother-in-law. They both had the same thing going on in their freezers….and I heard the same thing” It might still be good”….”um I don’t think so after 5-10 years….LOL” I even looked up how long you should keep things frozen and the longest was 1 year just to put their minds at ease, that they weren’t throwing out anything that was eatable….God love em…..they sure know how to conserve, even if it means making everyone sick if they happen to have grabbed one of those outdated packages of meat. 🙂

  9. I think your mom is very brave to be able to let go of that food!
    I used to live in a part of the world where throwing away food is a sin. At a recent family reunion, we rented a house for a week and had to clean out the fridge when we left. As we packed up, I found myself siding with older relatives who grew up in the Depression, against the entire rest of the family. Every time somebody suggested throwing away the uneaten peanut butter or bread, I saw a mental picture of those hungry families living on the sidewalk, the little five-year-old girl in the dirty red-print frock. I just couldn’t agree to it, let alone throw it away myself! I admire your mom for being able to overcome that feeling…

    • She will be thrilled to hear your response. And for the record, leftovers never go to waste in my house. Glad you wrote. Just now, I was listening to vinyl and thinking about you!

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