I’ve been thinking a lot lately about stuff. Our belongings. The things we surround ourselves with, and the meaning we place on them.
Now that my parents have moved into a retirement home, my sister and I have been in the process of selling their home of the past 35 years. In order to do so, we’ve had to deal with all their stuff. And there is a ton of it.
What’s difficult is that the world doesn’t really value their treasures. Every 2 weeks when my mother got her paycheck, she would go off to the store and buy one piece of her china pattern. Later came Royal Doulton figurines, and china birds.
Now, most people of my generation and younger don’t want fancy dishes that can’t go in the dishwasher. Our modern design sensibilities aren’t consistent with fussy china dolls that need dusting. So, what to do?
So far we’ve had an auction, hired a junk man to haul stuff away, and I’ve taken 5 van loads of stuff for donation. I’ve put some of their things into storage in my mother-in-law’s basement. I have some of their furniture in my garage that I’m trying to sell online. And I have dozens of boxes all over my house of their odds and ends that need to be incorporated into my house. Lord knows when I’ll get to that project.
But what I’ve really noticed is how this experience has caused me to look at my own stuff. Toys in the basement when my kids are almost adults. Clothes in my closet I haven’t worn in years and probably don’t even fit me. Pots and pans in the cupboard that we never use. There’s an inertia to it. Sure, I’ve been meaning to go through everything and declutter, but it’s a task that never seems quite right for today. Much better for some future day, TBD, that never comes.
I do feel sadness about the dismantling of my parents’ home and their loss of autonomy. The belongings they paid dearly for and valued highly are almost worthless now.
But there’s also acceptance. I’m choosing to believe that they fully experienced the pleasure of their belongings for many years, and now the relationship with their stuff is complete. The time has come to move on.
What about you? Do you ever feel weighed down by your stuff? Do you find yourself sandwiched between the needs of your children and your aging parents? Where in your life is it time to move on from something? Please share in the comments below. As always, don’t hesitate to reach out if you need help.