What am I saving it for?

What am I saving it all for?  At age 60 I am finally dealing with my own mortality and taking action to have everything in order before I die.  This action was triggered by the experiences I have had with the two that ladies I helped combine their two households and build a fence for their dogs.  Weeks before the fence I watched as people from their church helped move them together into one house.  I saw these same helpful people tell them that their precious possessions, filled with memories, were garbage and must be taken to the dump or sold at a garage sale.

I helped them pour over their precious memories as we cleaned out an old china closet that the woman had decided to sell.  There was everything from family heirlooms handed down from mother to daughter to just fond memories of items used during the holidays.  This was a tough time for this 71 year old woman.  Yes, there was a lot of junk.  But, what I saw was a woman who whole life now seemed to be encompassed in her memories.

Her husband had recently passed away.  She was ill and basically house bound.  Her only contact was a care taker who came in once each day to do some cooking, check on her and spend a bit of time doing light housekeeping.     Otherwise, the only time anyone saw her was when she managed to get someone to take her to church or when they came over to visit, which wasn’t often.

This elderly woman had found the Home Shopping network and since she could not get out to shop for herself, this was one way to spend her time.  Unfortunately, she bought things that she would never wear or use.  So, there was a lot of those kinds of items.  Still, despite her physical age, her mind still felt able to do the things she really couldn’t. She was trying to hold on to that youth because inside she still had the same thoughts and feelings of that 16 year old.  Growing old is such a bitch!

I have had that annoying experience.  Though I am 60, inside, my mind and soul, I still feel sixteen.  I don’t think our souls age.  The idea of not being able to physically do the things that I feel capable of doing is very frustrating.  I can understand that, though she will never grill or BAR-B-Q, she hesitates at getting rid of that table top grill that has never been used.  She just might need it.

I can also understand the person at age 40 or 50 who still has the physical ability to grill and bar-b-que to cluck their tongue and shake their head at this “silly woman” who thinks she will ever actually do it.  However, where is the compasion?  Where is the empathy. If someone today came into their home and told them they had to get rid of all of their stuff, would they not turn to them and order them out of their home?  Well, perhaps we need to come at things not from our own point of view, but try to get into the mind and needs of the other person.

Helping someone is not help if it causes them pain.    I have been a certified Family & Divorce Mediator.  I decided to use the process to deal with this problem.  You know, it worked.  I didn’t tell her she had to get rid of anything.  I simple asked her why it was so important to her.   I  also then asked her: Do you think you will ever use this item again?   If she said yes, I asked her when she thought she would need it?  Then I explained to her how things can take up so much space not just physically, but emotionally and that buy clearing out the clutter she can create a more enjoyable lifestyle.  Clutter can be a heavy burden to carry.

I explained that by selling the old record player stereo unit, (spanish style with red panels and black lamenent wood look), she could purchase a nice TV entertainment center that would take the place of three or four individual pieces of furniture.  It would be all organied and encapsulated into that one space and give her so much more room and improve the look of her living room, not to mention the extra space she would have.  negotiating all the clutter with a walker was hazardous to her health.  She had already fallen several times and landed in the hospital.  You know what?  She understood what I was saying and managed to let go of a lot more than if I had just come in and demanded that she throw out all her stuff.  It became a win, win process and she did not feel like I was railroading her into it.

Now, we have all her precious items wrapped and stored away nicely in Rubber maid-type storage containers and I will be going over to place them safely in the storage shed this week.

As for those who tried to bully her into submission “for her own sake”, shame on you.  Old does not mean that we give up our rights to make our own decisions.  We might have a little more trouble, as we age,  making those decisions, but we certainly do not deserve to be bullied.  What ever happened to compassion?

Besides this experience, my grand daughter is finally cleaning out her room…and this was the turning point that created my need to action.  She was handing me back keepsakes I had given her…things I had given her because I wanted to share them with her.  I had enjoyed them so much, I wanted her to have them now, while I was alive.  And, I am glad I learned this lesson.  Don’t save things for your kids.  They won’t appreciate them.  They don’t have the emotional ties to them you do.  Very likely they will end up in an estate sale while your kids are settling you estate.  Few of your items will end up in their hands in the end.  Most will be discarded and sold.  So, if you are keeping it for your posterity…don’t. Take pictures of the items, include a story with them, and then don’t worry about it.

Scan your personal pictures and put them on discs now.  Don’t wait until you are gone.  Then, turn them over to one person in the family that you know will honor and appreciate them.  The rest will have their copies.  I have my grandmother’s teacup collection that I have saved because heirlooms are important to me.  I am finding out that they are not important to my children or their children.  So, I am going to save them for the grand daughter I know will appreciate them.  I have one daughter I know would like some.  The rest will be given to the grand daughter who really understands the emotion behind them.  The rest of my family will get money.  They can sell the rest and get what they can from it.  I am also going to make sure that the one daughter and grand daughter who I want to have those precious family heirlooms has the stories that go with the.

So, I am cleaning out the clutter now so I don’t have to worry about anyone, even my children, coming in and telling me I have to get rid of my things.  That is one experience I will not allow to repeat itself.  I am going to sell everything I don’t need or donate it to Good Will or Salvation Army now.  Then I will enjoy the rest of my life uncluttered.  Ask yourself…what are you saving it all for?

Chris

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~ by womenstudycenter on March 22, 2009.

2 Responses to “What am I saving it for?”

  1. Great ideas! I’m 57 and feeling the sting of limitedness all of a sudden, and want to lighten the someday clean-out load for the kids. Husband isn’t going to help, so I need to do it, and do it now. Also, good point about clutter being a burden. With a whole bunch of move-back-homees who had their own apartments and now don’t, the clutter is more than burdensome. I can only take of ours, and that’ll be tough enough, but rewarding. Thanks for all the tips.

    • Thanks so much for the comment! It’s nice to know I am not alone in this. I called my second oldest daughter today and asked her if she wanted her great grandmother’s heirlooms. She is the only one in the family who really wants or appreciates such things. She was excited about getting them. And, this will prevent the bickering that happens after death. I’ve experienced that way too many times. So, I will be wrapping up the goodies and taking them to her this next week.

      You see, the reason for the feelings of burden is that I have had a daughter move in with two children. Suddenly our adequate home is way too small and the clutter just adds to the mess. She has been here five years and it is wearing thin. I don’t think I am mean to want her to get on with her life. I certainly know I want mine back. I have had to put a lot of my life on hold and I am just not willing to do that anymore. Of course, she thinks I am mean and cruel for these feelings. But, it is time for her to move out and get on with her life. So, I do know EXACTLY how you feel. It’s difficult having much freedom when I always have to be home to pick up kids from school, and they are teenagers now and I don’t have the patience or the ability to cope with the drama. I have earned my peace and quiet. So thanks for commenting. I no longer feel like an evil witch for wanting a life.
      Chris

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