We are moving into a new house and I have been sorting boxes stored for a number of years, some from my late mother-in-law, Jeanie.


But what is trash and what is treasure?

In one box there were lots of old Christmas and birthday cards, plus countless postcards Rob and I had sent over the years. (Well, let’s be honest… I sent them!) All trash really, but to Jeanie they were treasure. Then I came across something rather special.

Jeanie used to make greeting cards, with dried flowers and ferns. She must have rejected this one, It’s a bit faded, but I still think it’s lovely. I put it aside, throwing the rest of the stuff in the rubbish bin.

This hand made card is not trash.

When Rob was transferring the papers to the recycling container he suddenly said, ‘Hey, what’s all this money?’ 😎 It was common for people of Jeanie’s generation to hide cash. They lived through tough times, and never felt completely financially secure. How on earth did I miss these golden notes?

Treasure among the trash.

We have decided to spend our little windfall on dinner and a cocktail or two (with a toast to you know who) . I’m sure she would approve.


I swear Jeanie kept everything, from the day Rob was born;

Trash to some, treasure to me.

Look at this, a memento from the Cub Scout who earned every badge imaginable (as I struggled to tie knots in the Brownies. 😎)

Rob's cub cap, definitely not  trash.

Nevertheless, I was amazed to find Rob’s letters to his mother from his first weeks at The Australian National University in Canberra in 1968. Oh my word, these were definitely treasure, not trash!

If you could think of the most unlikely person to be in a play it would be my darling husband, so imagine my surprise and amusement to read this;

This letter was treasure, not trash.

Translation – On May the 4th the hall is holding an Edwardian type play – would any of my clothes suit the Edwardian look? (eg, thick brown coat you made me?)

holding‘ a play?’ I suspect this betrays his unfamiliarity with the theatre.

He tells me he has no memory of the performance whatsoever. I may have to check with his Uni mate Andy. However, I like to imagine my Rob on stage, looking like the dapper fellow on the left in the following image. 😍


The hall he mentioned was Garren Residential Hall. It had only opened in 1965. Rob thought the food was alright (surprising, as Jeanie was a wonderful cook), but commented that Canberra itself was ‘a bit dead’.

GARREN HALL DINING ROOM 1966 (Source – ANU Archives)


And here is the final calender Jeanie was using to keep track of things before leaving her beautiful apartment to go into residential care . (April 22 is marked ‘moving‘) She was struggling with dementia.

Neither trash nor treasure.

Her odd little list of what she would need demonstrates how much she cared about her appearance and her surroundings.

This list is not trash, but too sad to keep.

Jeanie died in May 2017, aged 96.

It’s such an emotional experience, this sorting through a life. Some finds make you laugh out loud, but some almost break your heart. 💔


  1. Most definitely treasure.
    I’ve been dealing with more than fifty years of copies of my Dad’s tax returns 😬

  2. Treasured memories

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