Going into the closet ... and coming out

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My daughter Heather’s old bedroom was transformed into a guest room years ago, but her closet had remained untouched, except to pile more stuff on top of so many layers of stuff that nothing short of an archaeological dig was going to uncover the remains.

This is no ordinary closet. It’s a huge, walk-in space so large my daughter staged part of her 13th birthday in the closet. (It was junior high. Don’t ask!) No one has been able to step foot inside this closet for years, though, so a thorough cleaning was long overdue. On a recent snowy Sunday, armed with new plastic storage containers, I tackled the beast.

For full disclosure, some of the newer layers of stuff were mine — Easter decorations, excess blankets and other miscellaneous items such as two big boxes of cooking magazines my husband promises he’ll go through some day soon.

Once I weeded through those layers, I got to the softball memorabilia era. Heather started playing softball in first grade and was a Whitefish Bulldog during her high school years. Remnants of her softball shrine were scattered here and there: framed photos, a trophy for most valuable offensive player her freshman year and other keepsakes.

I came across old purses from her school days that contained old tubes of lip gloss and notes passed during class in which various girls had confided their innermost thoughts of the day: “Oh, my God, ‘so and so’ is soooooo cute!).” Another discovery was her collection of Coke bottles from the various countries she has visited. Some of them are still full, but I carefully placed them in a storage container and I suspect she’ll toss them out 20 or 30 years from now. The full-sized sword and dagger she brought home from an eighth-grade trip to Spain were spared, though I don’t know what she’ll ever do with them.

There were so many endearing treasures I found — poetry she had written, a list of goals for her life and drawings that I couldn’t bear to throw out.

The Bulldog yearbook from her senior year in 2003 surfaced. As I paged through it, I had forgotten that my wild and crazy daughter, along with an outspoken boy in her class, had been named “Most Likely to Appear on Jerry Springer.” Not my proudest moment as a parent, but you’ll be happy to know that Heather, instead of turning up on a reality TV show, channeled her zest for life into an adventurous career as a TV photographer and reporter in Alaska, where she is covering the Iditarod sled-dog race from start to finish this week in temperatures that have been as cold as 40 below. I couldn’t be prouder of her accomplishments as a journalist.

It took most of the day to sort and cull and repackage her keepsakes into an orderly stack of containers. My nostalgic look back at my daughter’s life was complete and the closet has once again regained its “walk-in” status. Thanks for the memories, Heather.

Features editor Lynnette Hintze may be reached at 758-4421 or lhintze@dailyinterlake.com.

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