This week I was going to write a funny story about age. I still have this story residing somewhere in the back of my mind, however, for about a week or so there has been an idea sort of flashing in and out of my thoughts, especially after I have seen the devastation that, that rotten fellow, Hurricane Michael, left in it’s wake.
First and foremost, let me say that the pictures I have seen so far on Facebook, MSN, and on television are heartbreaking. We have seen lovely little spots of paradise turned into bleak depressing war zones. Whole neighborhoods and in some cases whole cities have been destroyed in a few short hours. So everything that was, is now lost and gone forever. Homes and businesses have disappeared and often only splinters left in their place. We can’t imagine how this must feel to the bewildered people who left their homes filled with the everyday things that we rely on to get us through each day…. the necessities are very important but then there are the knickknacks and wedding gifts … the Tiffany lamp you picked out at that cute little store during your sightseeing trip with your five best friends. The jewelry box that your husband gave you for Christmas that cost him a fortune made from the finest wood. He was so proud of it even though you thought it looked like a monstrosity … however, after a few years you grew to love it. Gone, all gone. It’s awful. I know it is awful and it will take a while to get over the sadness and pain of so much loss and all this loss arrived in an instant and took away everything.
There is something you good people who have faced this tragedy will learn about this loss. If you haven’t lost your life or the lives of your family and friends the other stuff is just that …. it’s stuff. The only thing you have really lost are THINGS . I have lost a lot in my life. I lost (at one point in my life) everything I ever owned. It took a long time for me to get over the loss however, the older I have become the more I have learned that things aren’t as important as we once imagined. In the last 18 years at one time I had possessions from three different houses. My mother had passed away and I had to empty her vacation home. What do you keep? What do you sell? What do you give away? My husband and I had rented a large home and we filled it with furniture. A few pieces from my mother’s vacation home some paintings from my mother’s home in Chicago and lots of new furniture for the new large home. Three years later I bought a darling smaller home in Arizona. I put most of the furniture in storage and sent a small truck with movers to the new home. I bought new furniture that fit the adobe style home with it’s sandy front yard filled with cacti and the pool with a hot tub and waterfall in the backyard. Large furniture where it snowed nine months out of twelve just didn’t fit a house in Arizona.
We spent only two years in Arizona and once again our lives changed. To make a long story short. In the next several years I had to sell, toss and give away almost three houses of furniture, life and memories. My last move was to move to a lovely two bedroom two bath apartment with a small office and a small dining area and a small kitchen. It is perfect for me. In the last several years I have donated literally tons of bags of shoes, clothes and accessories and bags and bags of clothes from my children’s closets. We kept moving to smaller homes or apartments. Suddenly I lost almost all my sentimentality to my things. It got easier and easier to donate maybe 12 or more boxes of books, old cd’s, knickknacks, the wooden giraffe from Disney World, the painted egg also from Disney World, the old chess set … (I don’t play chess) the marble game (I never learned how to play). I sold, donated, tossed and tossed and donated and donated. Big, black bags of stuff filled my large Jeep weekly as happy thrift shops welcomed the merchandise. I pictured mother’s faces who might be on the receiving end of the perfectly good clothes and toys and books that were no longer of use to my family. I can’t tell you how freeing it was to me. I now have a clean, neat apartment with a set of two bookcases. The bookcases aren’t full. I have room for more books I have an office with two shelves of books and papers neatly filed and white cloth storage bins. Most of these bins are empty. I do have a few sentimental items … lots of paintings on my walls and some of my sculptures on a shelf or two. I still have my jewelry box and a closet filled with clothes and shoes. However, it isn’t stuffed and I’m thinking right now about getting rid of some of the clothes and shoes I haven’t worn in a year.
I bought a few pieces of modern furniture. In my bedroom I have a lamp from my mother’s last apartment. I added a new shade, a bed table of my mother’s from her vacation home and a set of drawers in lovely dark wood with brass handles that match the table and a chair from her vacation home that I covered in a dark golden velvet. I bought a new floor lamp. I kept the Tiffany lamp and it is sitting on the stone granite counter in the kitchen. There are two new tall chairs sitting in front of the counter that I bought for the new apartment with my new modern metal dining table and chairs. The apartment is perfect for me at this time in my life.
One thing I have learned. It is nice to keep a few pieces here and there of your past. It is nice to keep a few sentimental items as well, however, I have learned that I can get along without them too. These are things and things can be replaced. I noticed that many people over the age of 60 often have too many things sitting around as clutter. These things clutter your home and keeps you living in the past and often clutter your mind. It is nice to remember the past however, un-cluttering is good. The past is the past. Toss out that old couch, give it away or send it to Habitat. The coat your husband gave your for your 15th anniversary … donate it and get another coat. Clean out those closets. You will feel freer and here is a surprise … you will feel younger and you may be able to look forward to your future, your neat, uncluttered, future.
Until Next Week…