Saturday, August 03, 2019

What to do with stuff—guest blogger Kathy

“Yesterday I dusted off 20+ year old paintings done by our daughter that she stored here when she moved to Boston. Certainly, she intended to retrieve them one day. Last night I cleaned them off and put on a mini art show. She left without them. Today I put them out for the trash. All but one.

The day before that, she asked me for a dresser. It is a nice solid wood dresser with dove tailed joints that we had rescued from somebody’s ugly blue paint job before she was born. New furniture is junk by comparison. It is also the dresser that housed all her onsies, receiving blankets, booties, and other precious clothing that might still be around the house, waiting for grandchildren that never come. I hesitated about the dresser, but only because I was doing mental gymnastics about clearing it of abandoned items belonging to her brother. Sigh. After thinking a bit, I thought giving it was a good idea. I asked her this morning if she was going to take it and she said no. I did unload an old king sized comforter. Big blanket, small comfort.

I remember being on the receiving end of the stuff belonging to my elders. Lucky for me, grandparents were downsizing at the same time I was settling down. I loved old fashioned things. Most of the furniture is still in daily use at our house and I have some of their valued treasures. I remember another phase of life when my mother made miniscule attempts to unload accumulated property that she thought was too good for the trash. Little by little she tried with mixed success. She couldn’t bring herself to do that one big, emotional purge. One day an old plastic Santa and Reindeer back lit with 60 Watt bulbs showed up. It had been a significant yard ornament purchase in 1954 when they bought their first home. We set it up on our deck while Mom watched, and our little ones enjoyed it that year. Then we put it away until it went in the trash years later. Something of previous value that had aged until it served no purpose.

I have the 60 year old Erector Set that belonged to my brothers. They have sons but she gave it to me. I suspect that they were more hardhearted about it than I was. Now an antique, it never came out of the box in our house. Maybe the Ninja Turtles could have performed heroics against Splinter and Shredder on it, but they never found out. I guess there is still a chance for that, since the 4 turtles and their enemies are all still here too. I did find an unopened pack of #2 pencils 49₵ from Woolworths in the box. The erasers are still pliable and I am sure that these are REAL graphite #2 pencils instead of the odd plastic stuff they use nowadays. You can buy a similar unopened pack on Ebay for 10x the original price. Whew! I should get out my sketch pad again. That’s been in another box for a few years. Well, maybe more than just a few.

Finally, I told my mother no more stuff and I made sure I was busy the day of her moving sale when she pared her belongings down to a precious few to out of the family home. Something tells me I hurt her feelings. She was about the same age as I am now.

Oh well, it’s just stuff. Stuff that keeps memories alive while it harbors the aura of family love for a few more years.

Does anybody want a Sunfish or some windsurfers?”

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