love people, use things

My elderly across-the-street neighbor recently moved to her daughter’s house. She had gotten to where she could not manage stairs and did not trust herself to drive. I hope I will be so wise to concede to this if I get there.

I did not know this lady well since I have only lived here for three years, but she would call now and then to chat and I enjoyed her calls.

As she prepared for her move she called one afternoon to let me know there would be several trucks coming to her house to pick up various pieces of furniture. She sounded sad and I waited silently as she gathered her thoughts.

“You know, they are just things, but no one in my family wants them.” I could hear her hurt as she spoke and I could sympathize.

I have my mother’s dining room furniture. Neither my son nor my brother wants it. Well, my brother wants the fiddle-back chairs. Our mom had the seats upholstered with needlepointed patterns she had done years ago. But no one wants the side boards, the Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner china and casseroles or the silver. No one wants the very old china plates that my mother waited years for Dad to make plate rails for, and he never did. (You can buy them already made I learned)

So I could understand how my neighbor felt. I know these are things but they hold such memories. And they are beautiful pieces of furniture. And the silver no one makes like this anymore. But they are things. Everytime I get to the point where I think I will donate the lot someone (usually my brother) insists I keep it all, as though it is sacrilege to not want it. I am a practical-oriented person. If I don’t use something in, say over 15 years, it’s time to let it go.

I still have the memories. My mother is not a chair. My father is not in a table. Having the things we used when they were still living and we were a family together is not the same as having the people. And things, for me, do not extend to the person. I am grateful to have had such lovely things but, as with the piano that found a better home, wouldn’t it be preferable for a new family to enjoy them?

If I used these things it would make more sense to keep them. I do not entertain. My son especially since this virus, does not visit me and even when he did we never ate a formal meal.

If I were to leave this planet I cannot take these things with me. They will remain behind for someone to deal with. Everytime I move I occupy a small portion of a house that is mostly used to shelter the furniture I never enjoy. Just seems wasteful.

I have asked rescue dogs Lily and Lulu who have made it clear that they are only interested in being in whatever room I am in. If I am eating they are at my feet, wherever I am. They have their dog beds in every room, so they can rest on a comfy cushion wherever.

This should not be so difficult. I have books and clipped articles with tips on helping people declutter, downsize or minimize. Even one that I no longer have that was purported to be most authoritative, “The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning”. Since (so far as I know) I am not on the brink of death this was a little too final. Even if my sister-in-law is Swedish.

9 thoughts on “love people, use things

  1. I cling to my “stuff.” I know that it’s only stuff, but it’s my stuff and I refuse to part with a great deal of it. I was told that it was unfair to my grandchildren to expect them to deal with it when I’m gone. I think it’s unfair of them to expect me to live without my stuff. And since I’m still here, they don’t get to say. 🙂 However, I don’t tell other people how to live. If you want to shed your stuff, it’s up to you. If you want to shed that china or silver my way? Nah, i have enough stuff of my own!

  2. It can be very difficult parting w/ possessions that have sentimental meaning. When my mother’s health made it necessary to move in w/ my sister, she, too, had to downsize. We wound up donating a large set of dishes. Our hope is that someone else had a use for them.

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