I have front row seats at two downsizing efforts. Both close to home. My across the street neighbor recently moved to a continuing care community, and my mother-in-law passed away. Both ladies had lived in their homes for more than 30 years; each lost their husband roughly 20 years ago.
My neighbor lived sparsely, but she saved ever piece of paper that ever made it into her house. She kept meticulous household records, and her house was immaculate. My mother-in-law also lived sparsely, saved every item that made it into her house regardless of its condition or if she already had two of the same thing, and her house was an absolute mess.
Both had difficulty letting go of their possessions. My neighbor moved 5 months ago, but still had a house full of furnishings, paper, books, and other treasures to deal with. My mother-in-law died suddenly and left us with a house full of furnishings, paper, books and other treasures to deal with.
My neighbor’s grown son has been fantastic, driving nine hours from Massachusetts several times a month to visit his mother and help her dispose the things not important enough to take with her, but too good to put out with the trash. He has put a lot of items on Craigslist, and even more to the curb. Neighbors and passersby have happily come to inspect the vases, kitchen chairs and antique dehumidifiers he has left out. Most items have disappeared within hours.
However, when he returns to Massachusetts, his dear mother returns to the house and fills her car with things like punch bowls, lanterns, gardening supplies and more. I can’t imagine where she is putting them, living now in a small one bedroom apartment, already crowded with a bit too much furniture. And I can’t imagine her son’s frustration when he comes down to visit and sees these things at the new apartment!
Without my mother-in-law around to grab onto her possessions, you would think it would be slightly easier. But maybe because she left this world so suddenly, each trip to her house to cart off stuff turns into a long trip down memory lane. We are also left to puzzle over a lot, such as the number of flashlights we found among her belongings. Probably hundreds. We think perhaps she might have been afraid of the dark. We have also found a large quantity of scissors in every room of the house and even in her car.
All this downsizing has me doing much of the same at my own house. I do not want to hold on to our stuff until we reach the age where letting go of it gets difficult. I don’t want my daughter to have to muse over some of the strange items she might find when we are gone. And everywhere I read that getting rid of the clutter will help clear my mind. Mine could sure use a little clearing right now! Every new year, I find myself buying containers to neatly store my stuff. I hope this year will be a little different!