A number of years ago, my sister Bec had to pack up her house in northern Virginia, in which she had lived with her husband and two kids for something like 30 years, and she had to do it all by herself. Her husband had passed away, her kids lived in lands far, far away, and she had sold that house and was moving to a smaller house in AZ. She had no choice; she was on her own. It wasn’t going to pack up itself.
She tells this story: After spending the entire summer going through cupboards and dressers and closets and dusty boxes in the attic and garage, all the while making decisions about what would travel to AZ, what would be sold in her end-of-the-summer garage sale, what her kids would take, and what would be tossed, she came face-to-face with her cedar chest. She opened it up and saw such things as baby clothes and her wedding dress and mementos she had collected over the years. All those manner of things which women save in their cedar chests.
Having spent the entire summer taking on this huge task mostly by herself (her kids helped as they could, but see above – far, far away), she had reached her limit. “I simply didn’t know what to do with my wedding gown,” she says. “So I closed up the cedar chest and said out loud to myself, ‘I am leaving this for the kids to go through after I die.’”
Sometimes I think our Denver house is so full of STUFF that it could topple over. Much of the stuff, however, is easily disposable. Start by packing up boxes of clothes and giving them to Bill’s BFF Jane-from-ARC who calls him nearly every week.
But the things that paralyze me are things such as my good Royal Doulton china or the beautiful things that my mother-in-law has given me over the years. Then there’s the boxes and boxes of photos – both mine and those that came out of Wilma’s house when she moved to assisted living awhile back and were sent to Bill and me because we weren’t there to stop his brother and sister who were packing up Wilma’s house from sending them to us. Bless their hearts.
Or my dad’s clarinet. The clarinet that he used when he played in the Navy band during World War II and later when he played in my mother’s brothers’ dance band. The clarinet that my grandparents probably worked their butts off to afford to buy him. Several years ago, our granddaughter Addie decided to play clarinet in her school band. I offered her Dad’s instrument, and she was tickled. But she took it to her teacher who told her that because of its age, it would require a great deal of work to get it back working properly. As with many things, it made more sense for her to get something new. And so that instrument sits in my basement. I can’t throw it away. I couldn’t in a million years.
I came across this article recently that confirmed my suspicion: no one wants my stuff. Young families no longer use expensive and easily breakable china, even for holidays. No one yearns for the old dresser in my guest room with a waterstained top, even if it did belong to my dad when he was a kid. All of the baby sweaters and booties in my own cedar chest that were handmade by my grandmother – do you ever see a baby wearing old-fashioned booties anymore? Maybe baby mary janes or baby converse. No baby booties that go up to the infant’s knees. As for Royal Doulton? When I went on their website to see if they even sell the Carlyle pattern anymore, I saw that they sell things called the Gordon Ramsey Union Street Collection or the Pacific Collection. In order to purchase my particular pattern, it would require Ebay or replacements.com, and more money than most young adults would want to spend.
So, at the end of the day, in the event that Bill and I sell our Denver house, many of these items will be placed in a box and carried to our next home, where it will sit until such time as it will no longer be our problem.
Done. And thanks for your good example, Bec. Drop the mic.
Linked to Grammy’s Grid.