Monday, April 29, 2013


Robin's "Ammaponders" blog on clutter:

included a line about how her daughters should hope she lives a long time because she is never going to get the clutter under control. Reading it made me think about two things.  One was about the experience of sorting through and removing the "clutter" from my parents house when they died (within 6 months of one another after 53 years of marriage) and the other was about the "clutter" I have accumulated.

It fell on me to perform the sorting and discarding chore in my parents house.  When everything that none of the family wanted and that wouldn't bring in anything at an estate sale was stacked at the curb, it looked like it would need a semi to haul it away.  Some of it was, I'm sure, emotional treasure in my mother's eyes;  much of it was stuff like Reader's Digest Condensed books that was "too good to throw away."  When you grew up in the depression like my folks did, there wasn't much that wasn't too good to throw away.  I have to admit having caught something of that attitude from them.  The saddest part was probably the old photos of people or places that I couldn't even identify.  Who were they?  What did they mean to my parents?  Were they relatives?  Friends?  I'll never know.

I seem to be teetering on the brink of melancholy here so I guess it's time to pull back.  Memories and the artifacts that bring them back are good things, things to be savored.  I'm not one of those people who thinks that some time in the past was the golden age when everything was better, but I do enjoy the selective amnesia that lets me hang on to the good and let go of the not so good.  Drafty, unheatable houses and too much peanut butter and boloney become the stuff of some of those "when I was a boy" stories; fun to tell and stripped of all real unpleasantness. Growing up loved and learning to love are the parts that linger.

A certain part of my stuff actually came from my folks house and some of that even came from my grandmother's.  There are no valuable heirlooms, handed down from generation to generation, just things that invoke memories.  I kept a Reader's Digest Condensed book from my mother's collection because it is one I remember reading one summer when I was in grade school.  I have a paperweight that Grandma Freytag brought back from a trip to Mexico; it brings back memories of her house that feel like a hug across the years.  A couple of shoulder patches, a lump of granite the size and shape of a baseball, an old Monopoly Game and a lot of books I have read that stuck with me, these are all pieces of my life that mean little or nothing to anyone else and will surely be put out with the trash when I am gone.  No matter, they help me to wrap up in the warm blanket of the past and relive happy times.  I once said that each day as it comes is the best day of my life because it contains the memories of all the days before.  These memories that I can see and touch make that statement all the more true.



  1. After losing my mom in 2002 and my dad in 2010, I have had to deal with many of their possessions. You are wise to keep just a few items that are really loaded with memories. I kept far too much stuff, and now I have to begin all over again to dispose of it.

  2. Wow. We had the exact same experience. Cleaning after mother died 4 years ago fell to me, and boy did she ever save! I vowed not to leave my own kids with the same kind of mess and I have been "working" on it!
    The result of going through mom's things left me with an overwhelming sense that, like me. she, too, was a woman who just wanted to be happy and enjoy life. I saw her as someone beyond just my mother for the first time.
    I love the way you concluded your post...very touching, very true!

    1. Thank you so much for your exceptionally kind comments. If I could make one small suggestion, if you do wish to read all my posts, you might want to start with the oldest. It is a sort of serial narrative with some references back to older posts. Thank you for wanting to read them at all.

  3. Rest assured, the old Monopoly game will not be going out with the trash... that will be coming with me.