“Keepsakes of Life,” April 9, 2018

What are your keepsakes? Where do you keep them? Don’t worry, I won’t tell. Not that anybody’s likely to steal them. Keepsakes aren’t usually worth much to anyone, except to the one who treasures them.

Pretty soon, in a week or so, we’ll hang a “for sale” sign on a house that’s been our home for a dozen years. When it sells (we hope soon) we’ll say goodbye to Las Vegas, and move back to California, to be closer to our family and longtime friends.

I’ll be happy to be back in the same town, on the same coast, in the same house, where I raised my children and spent most of my adult life. But I won’t be happy to leave here.

It’s funny. I never wanted to live in a big city or a desert, let alone, both. I remember the day my husband told me he’d been offered a job in Las Vegas.

“You don’t want to live in Vegas,” he said, “do you?”

“No,” I said. “But when a door opens we should at least look to see what’s on the other side.”

So we looked. And the more we looked, the more we liked it. So we moved from the coast to the desert, to a house with a view of the Spring Mountains.

I will miss those mountains. And the sunsets that light them up. And swimming at midnight. And listening to coyotes. I’ll even miss the jackrabbits that graze on our tiny patch of lawn. I’ll especially miss the friends we’ve made here and all the great times we’ve shared when our kids have come to visit us.

But my husband retired two years ago. And now, in addition to our children, we have six grandchildren in California. And they’re growing up fast.

Slowly, I’ve begun getting our house ready to sell. Today I packed up a big box of “my stuff,” keepsakes that sat for years on some shelves behind a door, out of sight to most anyone, but me. I visited them there fairly often when I wanted to recall who I am. Here are just a few:

_ A doll my grandmother made for me when I was 5. It was a magic doll, she said, that throughout my life, would tell me things I need to hear. She was right. It tells me plenty.

_ A baby shoe I wore to take my first steps. We had no money for fancy stuff, but my mother had it bronzed. That shoe and her middle name are all that she left me, along with a great wealth of memories and stories.

_ A small ceramic pitcher my dad made while he was in the veterans hospital recovering from a stroke. He gave it to me on our last visit before he died. He was proud of it. So am I.

_ A bundle of sticks tied up with a string. A friend brought it to Thanksgiving dinner as a token of our friendship: Each of us, he said, is like one of those sticks, fragile in our own ways; but together, we are hard to break.

_ A wooden branch in the shape of a cross. I found it on a path in Zion National Park while I was praying for a friend who lay miles away in a coma only days from dying. I asked God for my friend’s deliverance. Then I saw that cross and knew my prayers were answered. Her death was my loss, but it was her salvation.

There were lots of treasures on those shelves. Photos of my kids and grandkids. Gifts they made for me. Reminders of loved ones long departed. I wrapped them up and tucked them away to take with me to California.

The only thing missing is a keepsake from the desert. We have a statue of a mama quail with two chicks on the post by our gate. She lost her topknot when a tree limb fell on her, so she’s not perfect. Neither am I.

I bought that statue because we have loved watching quail in the yard. Chicks should be hatching soon. Hope we get to see some before we leave.

Meanwhile, I’ll pack the statue in my keepsake box and take it to California, to remind me of our desert dwelling days.

Life is too good to forget.


  1. Jim Kelsay says

    Moving again. I know the feelings, growing up I went to 8 different schools in 22 different cities, towns, villages and at least one “wide spot in the road.” My dad worked for a company that built asphalt roads, and every summer we moved at least twice. Home base was the state’s third largest city from fall to spring then west to the Sandhills all summer. I definitely learned what it meant to be the new kid in town.
    I know from reading your column that you and your husband are both going to be happy closer to family. Returning to a place that feels like home will not be a problem either. Good luck with the move and say hi to the grand kids.

  2. Sharon, I am so sorry we didn’t the chance to meet up as we had planned to (a couple of times, at least) years ago before I moved from Las Vegas to Texas. You are still one of my favorite writers! Wishing you both the best as you head home to California. Take care! – Lisa F.

  3. Your new chapter awaits you…new keepsakes to save. I live in Trinity County, close to the Oregon Border, I love the diversity California offers . But, I do visit my little sis in Vegas the last 20 years with desert keepsakes that I treasure. Life is so grand allowing us these moments in time….fleeting scraps of memories on a fence, blowing in the wind. You are tumbling home…safe journey.

  4. I just so look forward to your column in my Thursday Wichita Falls, Texas Times Records News. These columns give me peace knowing there is Normal Living going on; not everything is politics.
    I would love a book filled with your columns so I could read one every day.

  5. Shelia Moore says

    Keepsakes are and memories are all that I have left of my family. My father passed away when I was eighteen from MS. Then two months to the day later my Mama (my mothers mother passed away. Mama had lived with us my whole life and growing up those two were my world. Don’t get me wrong I did love my mom,but she worked days and my dad worked thirds, so I spent most of my waking hours with them and in the end all my time with them. I have lived every day trying to make them proud. I lost my mother two years ago and now at 56 I have my keepsakes , memories and my weekly column from you. I truly enjoy them. Sometimes I laugh, sometimes cry and sometimes smile They remind me so much of me. Thank you and keep writing. ??

  6. Kate Sciacca says

    “No,” I said. “But when a door opens we should at least look to see what’s on the other side.”

    Oh my – that is precisely how we ended up in Carson… a job the better half really wanted and when he asked I said, “well, let’s knock on the door and see what happens.” Except… I didn’t think that door would open (for a number of reasons). But God had other plans ?

    You’re moving from “California east” back to its beautiful Pacific coast – complete with family and friends. Sounds like a definite “win-win” ? Probably the only “ouch” is selling in a different market than when you bought… 2006 was a heady time in Vegas… 😉

  7. Diana Kelley says

    I loved reading this article. I have moved often from rental to rental, but always in Salinas or Prunedale. Now, as I face Stage 4 Cancer, I am deciding what to keep and what to donate. My tastes are not my children’s, so much of what I have they have no interest in, and I don’t want them to have to search through it all someday when it’s my time to move on. I, too, have those special things that will mean nothing to anyone other than me, but I won’t let them go. They will be a piece of what keeps me happy, alongside my faith, as time goes on and I continue to breathe deeply. Thank you for your writings. They bring us so much pleasure.

  8. Patti Peters says

    Sharon at least Monterey is home, and it certainly has beautiful views! And it isn’t always the place but the people. Your family will be glad you are there! I am so glad that I found your writings again!

  9. Marilyn Green says

    As you are packing for a move, so am I. Trying so hard to eliminate all the “extra stuff” that has accumulated over the past 24 years is really tiring. The keepsakes from the kids and grandkids are the hardest to sort through and I think I will have more than one(or two) boxes of those….and that does not include all the photos. It would be so much easier to get rid of stuff if there were no memories attached….all my stuff seems to have heart strings. Best wishes on your move. Please keep writing your column….love it!

  10. Kim felton says

    Beautifully written….made me cry…

  11. Marianne says

    What a reminder of all the special little keepsakes that we all hold on to..As I read this I began to wonder where some of mine are! I need to search for them in boxes that have never been unpacked from our last move…sixteen years ago!!I know they’re here someplace…

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