This week I wanted to reiterate an important point: You can't take it with you.
I went to visit my great aunt in the hospital (hospice) yesterday to find that she's slipping away and will mostly likely pass on in the next few days. She's been the closest thing to a grandmother to me as an adult since all of my real grandparents died when I was a child. She offered support, encouragement, and unconditional love when I really needed it over the past 12 or 13 years. So it was heartbreaking to see this tall, strong, intelligent woman looking so tiny and fragile in a hospital bed.
It reminded me of how, years before he died, my father was more than ready to let go of his possessions. It started with the vintage clothing he gave me when I was in high school and college. Later, he gave me his old car, a badass Buick. Do I still have any of those things? No, because they’re possessions that I loved, used up, and eventually had to discard as I moved on.
We often brag about that cool piece of furniture or accessories or antiques that we “scored” from a family member. Just remember that piece might be a reminder of a loved one, but it shouldn’t take the place of the memories you have. For example, I’ll always have the memories of the things I got from my father, the way he used them and how I gave them a second life. Now that the items are gone, have my memories or feelings changed? Of course not! (I mean, what would the point be of keeping an old car that doesn’t work anymore?)
Use it up and, when the time comes, pass it on or give it away. My mother (something of a hoarder herself) just gave me an old pot that was just sitting in her garage yesterday after I told her about an orchid I needed to re-pot. Looks like she’s learning, too.