Downsizing is never easy. Downsizing someone else’s lifelong accumulation is exhausting.
The saga of relocating my stepmother was heard around the neighborhood with loud cries for mercy, extended longing for items not looked at or remembered for decades, and assurances that the move would end her life.
It is heart wrenching to uproot someone from their home while only trying to help. The saying, ‘no good deed goes unpunished’, is appropriate in this instance.
But there are glimmers of light in the dusty upheaval of unearthing gems of the long forgotten past.
For instance, how many pair of white leather gloves did we ever need or wear?
Short ones, elbow lengths, and ones that ran up to your armpits were all part of a well dressed woman’s wardrobe.
And no boudoir would be complete without 14 lacy gowns, 8 pair of pajamas, 7 robes, 9 pair of house slippers, and those were just the ones that still had price tags attached. It appears many of them hadn’t been unboxed since 1953 when as a young woman she married a wealthy oil man who ran in affluent circles. We uncovered pictures of the couple at the Stork Club in New York, the Waldorf Hotel, and European hot spots, all taken before his fortunes crashed and faded away.
But the memories remain.
The problem with our ‘stuff’ is that it has no memories for anyone else. It is just ‘stuff’. And we are afraid that the stories, the remembrances, the meaning will disappear if we let go of the physical evidence of those times and events. We will forget all of it if some token of those times is not kept tucked away in a corner of our home.
We wouldn’t think there would be emotional attachments to bottles of shampoo half used and dated 1975, or hand lotion taken from a hotel that closed in the early 80’s. How about bars of soap stashed away on a top shelf behind a Styrofoam head that once held a wig?
My personal favorite? Has to be the flattened pillow, leaking feathers and smelling just as it did in 1946.
Oh, our memories are replenished and comforted when we touch and smell and listen to the things that were once part of our lives.
Of course, there are times we would like to exorcise the people who were once entwined with us…especially if they are step daughters not understanding the significance of a stained dickie.
And if you don’t know what a dickie is, you wouldn’t understand about the gloves either.