I’ve been living with a dilemma for the last few days and it made me wonder how others might cope with the same situation.
I’ve been involved in helping my older parents move into a lodge for seniors and it’s taken weeks to help them sort out all their “stuff”. What to take? What to give away? Or in many instances throw away? As much as I personally think some of the things they’ve chosen to take with them aren’t worth keeping, I’ve been taught a very important lesson.
The expensive articles like antiques, jewelry and fancy expensive dishes have been easily given up. My siblings and I were asked – no – begged to take anything we wanted, which wasn’t much since we all have too much of our own “stuff”. Therefore, Mom decided that she was more than happy for us to take these things to an antique shop or goldsmiths and sell them.
What she wouldn’t part with turned out to be what I considered trashy trinkets. A faded stuffed elephant she’d gotten from my brother. An old ashtray, cracked on one side my dad won for her many years ago at a fair. A collection of angels she’d received as gifts from friends over the years which were mostly cheap and even gaudy. The list goes on and on and….
It was these types of belongings she fought for when I explained for the umpteenth time that there was only one closet in the apartment and very little space for storage. The scads of photographs of people who were long gone, the many letters received over the years – these boxes had to be made to fit into that one closet somehow because they weren’t to be left behind. My questions of – how many times have you taken these letters and photographs out to look at them – didn’t compute. That had nothing to do with the fact that to her they were priceless and she needed them nearby.
The lesson I learnt from these last weeks reminded me of the drawers I have in my own home crammed with this same type of memorabilia. Maybe mine is newer now, but when I’m her age it’ll be old then. To my children it’ll be more rubbish that needs to be taken and stuffed somewhere when there’s no room. But to me it’ll be my precious memories. Then I’ll remember my mother and the lesson she taught me. What really is important to a wise old woman.