A few years ago, a young woman I have known since she and my son were in school together lost her father. Her mother had died years before and, as an only child, it fell to my young friend to clean out her dad's home. It was a large house and they'd lived there a long time. Plus, the man was a pack rat of the highest order. Since my friend now lives and works in another state, this cleaning had to happen on weekends. Even with the help of other friends, it took us months.
As a result of this experience, I found myself taking a hard look at our home and my years of accumulated stuff. Why was I keeping that statue? Because Great Aunt Matilda gave it to us. But Great Aunt Matilda's been gone for decades, and I wasn't that crazy about the statue to begin with. And with that, I started cleaning house. It was liberating. I got rid of things I'd hung on to for years but couldn't tell you why. Since my beloved spouse is not a pack rat or even vaugely sentimental about things, everything I was getting rid of was mine - and that made it easy.
Four years ago, I lost my mom. And in due course, my dad started giving away her things. Or more correctly, he started passing her things to me to give away. He told me to find out who in the family wanted what and to do whatever I felt was best with the rest. So I gave away all the useful items and made sure everyone had what they wanted to remember her by, and I looked at what was left. A collection of small treasures. Her treasures. Things she kept all her life because they meant something to her.
I've got news for you. Getting rid of your own stuff is easy. Getting rid of someone else's stuff is hard. Getting rid of the accumulated treasures of someone you love is impossible.
Last month we lost my mum-in-law. Since my husband is an only child, all her things came to us. We've done Goodwill and the Salvation Army and the church, and both our sons have taken want they want, and here I am looking at what's left. All of her accumulated treasures. What do I do now?
Have you been here? What did you do?
Countdown to retirement and writing full time: 19 work days to go.
I'm currently enjoying: THE WEIGHT OF SILENCE by Heather Gudenkauf.
Groaner of the Day: Back in the 1800's the Tate's Watch Company of Massachusetts wanted to produce other products, and since they already made the cases for watches, they used them to produce compasses. The new compasses were so bad that people often ended up in Canada or Mexico rather than California. This, of course, is the origin of the expression -- "He who has a Tate's is lost!"
(It's okay, Dru. Maria said I could.)