From time to time we looked at the old bank statements and other documents before they were torn to pieces. It's amazing how little information can trigger a memory....a bill for petrol from Blaenau Ffestiniog - that must have been our half term holiday in Wales; there goes Katie's child benefit (she's 22 now!)...why, of why, have we kept the instructions for the vacuum cleaner before last?
However, there are some things which are not destined for the shredder. The letters and photos from friends; notes from our meetings with doctors while Steve was having chemo; mementos of extra special events and occasions; the odd press cutting, award, certificate and medals which document some of our eclectic achievements from taking part in the Race for Life to designing the West Oxford poster; little notes from the (now grown-up) children. It's small things like this that put the flesh on the bones of our day-to-day lives. It will be up to Jack and Katie to decide the fate of such things. I can't bring myself to throw them away...
As we were going through these old documents from the 1990s onwards, it struck me that even back then, the asbestos fibres which caused Steve's mesothelioma were lurking somewhere in his chest, biding their time while the years of latency ticked away - just waiting for the trigger mechanism to kick in and tear our lives to pieces, just as we were now shredding bits of paper.
How many others are there out there now with the same shock in store for them in 30-40 years time? Would we have lead our lives differently if we had known back then about the time bomb waiting to go off inside Steve's body? Questions you simply can't answer.
So it's back to the here and now. The shredder has had a rest and so have we. Time to to a bit more - enough to clear the dining table at least. Who knows what other gems there are waiting to be re-discovered as we carry on with the big clear out?
Oh yes....and what do you do with with a small collections of French francs, Greek drachma, Spanish pesetas, a legacy of pre-Euro times. I don't suppose there a charity which recycles old money?