05/31/2012 05:46 am ET

Keeping Memories Alive: The Objects Worth Keeping

As the song goes, sometimes, you truly don't know what you've got til it's gone. With so much attention being paid to midlifers who learn that their aging parents are hoarders, there is another side of the aging coin that has been ignored. There are boomers who through the years have kept nothing, only to later regret that they have lost precious memories by throwing things out.

Donna Krech, a 50-year-old entrepreneur from Ohio, recently got what she considers a second-chance gift from her sister. The sisters -- as well as about a dozen other family members -- rotate the care of their 90-year-old mother. When Donna came to help dress and feed her mom the other day, there was a large envelope with her name on it on the table left by her sister. Inside were three Christmas letters that her mother had written decades ago.

This is what Donna posted to Facebook: "My mom has sent an annual Christmas card out for over 50 years straight. Why do we take things like this for granted and throw them away? FOOLISH ON OUR BEHALF! I was this fool. Today my sister gave me an envelope with several inside, from over the years. I wept as I read them, realizing I'd thrown away precious pieces of my Mom's heart that I could have had for the rest of my life. I have several now. I love my sister!!!!

Krech told The Huffington Post that she is a self-described neatnik. She says she keeps her home and office "in ship-shape" because doing so brings her "mental peace." Every years, when she would toss away the Christmas cards, she would also throw away the holiday letters her mom sent.

"I have to admit, I think I probably just skimmed a few of them, didn't even bother to read them."

Her mom's Christmas letters were written from the heart, said Krech. They not only highlighted the year, but they also detailed the trials and tribulations -- and how her mom felt about them. "Mom had a life filled with adversity, but she was always so positive and honest when she addressed it."

Her mom was widowed at age 28 with three children all under age five -- including a nine-month old infant. She had no marketable skills and didn't even drive. She managed to support her family as a door-to-door saleswoman selling house cleaning products. She later remarried -- twice -- and lost both those husbands as well. She battled cancer but still greeted each day as a blessing, said Krech. And if the proof is in the pudding, she had a total of five children, all of whom are successful entrepreneurs, said Krech.

"We all learned from Mom," she said. What will Krech do with the Christmas letters? Probably frame them.