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Food For Thought

Did I raise homing pigeons?

Moving into their new house didn’t take long for our son and family. They’d sold most of their furniture from the former house, knowing it wouldn’t seem right for the new one. They’d planned and saved and bought a few nice things that were just right for their jewel of a new home. A couple rooms were furnished rather sparsely but that could wait. Some unwanted things were left here in the rooms they’d vacated after staying in our house for several months. I planned to get rid of them as soon it was certain they wouldn’t be wanted. There was no hurry to restore my former studio, sewing room and guest room. Everything was still stashed in the store room, furnace room and garage. Maybe I’d rethink some of the arrangements. Take my time. Maybe even think about some paint and new curtains.
He who hesitates is lost, as they say. While I was savoring the prospect of re-inhabiting all that luxurious extra space, another son decided to build a new house for his family, which included three children. They would rent an apartment for the duration, but really did need to store quite a few things with us. Just until the new house was finished. Instead of ridding myself of unnecessary possessions, I seemed to be accumulating more. What had brought about this building boom in my family? Was it somehow connected to my desire to organize and simplify? Was Fate sending me the message that I was attempting the impossible?
Another son, unmarried, had no desire to build a new house, so I felt relatively safe when he asked if he could stay in his old room for a time while waiting for a particular apartment to become available. Of course. It was still furnished with the furniture he’d grown up with, plus a television jack and a separate telephone line. He didn’t have a houseful of furniture to bring with him, but there were still several pickup loads when he moved in. We found room. It would be nice to have him home for a while, and, since there was now a kitchenette, he would be able to do his own cooking and live independently, yet still be available to help with some of the outside chores which were becoming more and more difficult for me and my husband to handle. He liked to do the gardening and putter in our little greenhouse. And, he didn’t mind taking care of the mowing, shoveling snow, splitting and hauling in firewood for us. This seemed like a fine arrangement for everyone concerned.
As my husband’s health worsened, it became evident that we would either have to move to town, or convince our son to stay here more or less permanently. He seemed willing, I was willing to forsake my former studio, sewing room and guest room. About that time, my husband’s office lease was up and he would have to move. He decided to work from home for a while. He would store old files and office equipment in the garage and house until he decided for sure about renting another office or retiring. There were three desks, many filing cabinets, executive chairs, secretary’s chairs, coffee maker, a microwave oven, copy machine, supply cabinets, book shelves, and boxes and boxes of files which he was required to save for several more years unless the former clients came to retrieve them. And, of course, there were his office computer and an impressively fast but very large printer, which he would still use. It was a real problem to find places for everything. But there wasn’t much I could do about un-cluttering until he made up his mind for sure.
As of today, I’ve been whittling away at the pile of office stuff, but doubt if I’ll ever divest myself of the personal accumulation. For starters, I must admit that I rather like my cozy old stuff around me. Most of it isn’t essential, little of it is valuable. All of it is part of my life, part of who I am.
I remember how I felt when my mother sold her house and got rid of a lot of the clutter that had accumulated in her life. She sold or discarded things that I’d thought would always be there, things that had been familiar to me for most of my life. Not things that had been mine, but things that had always seemed part of home and, I believed, always would be. I felt as if my past had been erased without my consent. Maybe I should reconsider and not do the same thing myself. Who knows what should be gotten rid of and what should be kept? What trash is somebody else’s treasure? It’s a real dilemma. I don’t want to toss something that someone else would like to keep, but I can’t consult everybody over each little decision, either. Maybe I’ll just let my kids decide. When the time comes, maybe I’ll just leave them a dumpster and a big box of matches.