In search of story

Connections: October 22.17


I groped for the word: appalling? scary? astonishing? embarrassing? All the above?

This is one of two units in which the stuff of my life is stored. You know, dear reader: stuff? It isn’t life but it becomes life. Doesn’t it? It tells of people you miss. It tells of the daily. It’s the familiar, the comfortable, the personal.

It’s easy to disdain mere things. They are, after all, temporary. But they are also deeply a part of us. So I stand in absolute terror at the base of this mountain of things. It stretches floor to ceiling and wall to wall — in two units! What will I keep? What must go? How did this happen? What will I do about it all?

But, more important, what do I need? My writing mate Tamara is a minimalist. She and her husband have amazingly pared their life down to necessity. They have by example taught me to re-think ownership. That will enter into this. Also I think I’ve reached a time in life where the letting-go begins. Ironically, a holding-tight happens at the same time. I want to hold tight to memory even as I want to let go of the things that hold the memory.

Thus tension.

I might have a house to go to; I’ll know more in a few days. If so, the whittling begins. Look out for shavings!





7 thoughts on “Connections: October 22.17

  1. It is a tough time. I looked at each item and thought about wanting or needing it physically or emotionally. Then I wondered what my daughter would do with it when I died. If I pictured it going into the dumpster in the end I recycled it by donating it. I had stored things for 30+ years that I was positive she would want to store for another 30+ years. Wrong. 🙂 Good luck with this monumental task.

    • Thank you for the laugh! That’s the way my thoughts have been going: would someone else want to store this thing? Usually no. A wonderful cousin once said that when his mother died he was putting a dumpster at the front door, going through the house room by room and carting everything to that dumpster. An honest man. A good image to keep in mind at this point.

  2. It’s difficult isn’t it? Never having had children, some things are a mystery to me, such as why people keep things they don’t like in the thought that their children might one day like them. Their children usually won’t and, in turn, they have no room for those things because they are holding on to a lot of things of their own that they don’t like in the hope that their children might. Life seems both too short and too long for that. I would put the children on the spot and say ‘do you want them or not?’ but I only think that from the position of a person who has never had children.

    It may be connected to an awareness of value or a reluctance to accept something we have (or are) invested in was a mistake. There seems no harm in keeping a few things in the space we have for a general posterity – a ‘surely must have value’ box of motley potential treasures. You might almost say it is a social duty.

    The main thing is for you to find somewhere to ground yourself and your things again – sending you a continuous stream of good wishes for that.

  3. Thanks, Susan. I think you hit it with “grounding.” A place to be grounded — that’s the thing. Perhaps all flows from that. You are so right that our offspring are cursed with what we think they should want! I have faced that reality to a degree already and am determined to be realistic. I have no qualms about putting my sons on the spot (it’s reciprocated). I like the idea of “social duty” in a box of things that “surely must have value.” Those things tell of us. I wish my grandparents and great-grandparents would have left more of who they were.

  4. As you already know, I’ve had a long history of being asked about items I don’t want by my parents, and what I do want (old photos) have been withheld. I keep something (small) from each of my grandparents, aunts and uncles that I cherish, and that is enough. My own daughter is very familiar with the drill and has already taken what she wants. There is a kind of freedom to this as a reward for a tough sorting process, but each person knows their own amount and limits. I know you can do this, Maureen, and still keep the memories of the ones you cherish.

    • I think I understand the freedom — and perhaps I’m a little afraid of it. I’ve also seen how manipulation goes along with these family things. I am sure you’re right that this winnowing is different for each person, and now I have to set about figuring out what it will be for me.

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