Mystery...Romance...Sci Fi...Humor... The joy of writing fiction - meeting brand new people in places that don't yet exist.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Someone Else's Treasures

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.)


Mason Canyon said...

I've been that only child who had to clean out a parent's home and that parent (like the child) was a pack rat. Not an easy job on so many levels.

Thoughts in Progress

Dru said...

I haven't as an adult, but when my great-grandmother died, I remember my mom had to give away her treasures but each of us got something to keep. It's not hard.

I'm glad Maria saw the importance of your "groaner."

What did you think of "Indulgence in Death?" I loved "Weight of Silence." I need to see if she has a new book coming out.

Maria Zannini said...

Dru: Importance?
Let's just say my Uncle Guido informed me Linda was a friend of the family.

Linda: I come from a very big family, so when someone dies, there are usually enough people to take what's left.

But I like your dad's thinking. He delegated it to you. LOL. Smart guy!

Linda Leszczuk said...

Mason - My sympathies to you for having had to do that job. It's a serious bummer. On the up side, this has encouraged me to curb my own pack rat tendencies so hopefully it will be easier for my sons one day.

Linda Leszczuk said...

Dru - Bet it was harder for your mom than you knew, but I'm glad you got something of your grandmother's to keep. That's important.

I think Maria just took pity on me. {grin}

I thought "Indulgence" was good but for some reason I didn't feel the immediate connection to the characters that I usually get. Haven't figured out if it's the story or me. I've got a lot of distractions going on. What did you think of it?

I'm about half way through "Weight of Silence". Yes, very good. I like how she used the multiple first person POV's and Callie's silent third person to tell the story.

Linda Leszczuk said...

Maria - Ah, so you found out about my "connections".

There are some definite advantages to a very big family at times like these. Although, an only child doesn't have to deal with any squabbles over who gets what. {grin}

Dad did slip me some treasures that were easy to hang on to. Like the Wheaties box with David Ortiz's picture on it, personally autographed by Big Papi. Every job has it's bennies.

Anonymous said...

Never an easy task. I'm big on charities and helping those in need. Rather than collecting dust, why not let someone else benefit? That's my two cents worth. Glad to see you care. I've seen some people order a dumpster and toss everything, then sell the house. Makes me mad to see this happen.

Linda Leszczuk said...

Stephen - I never throw anything out but sometimes I make myself crazy trying to figure out the best person or charity to give each thing to. Of course, you'd expect me to be charity minded - I've been working for one for twenty years. It becomes a mind set.

Liz Fichera said...

I understand what you're going through completely. Dealing with some of the same. It's so tough to give up even the smallest things when they belonged to someone you loved.

Linda Leszczuk said...

Liz - Thanks. I guess a lot of us are or have been in this position. I hope it goes easy with you. And thanks for stopping by. I love to see a new face here.