I am writing today about to a comment posted in response to yesterday’s blog about downsizing, which we seniors talk about all the time. I have been downsizing for years. One reason is that I don’t have the energy to care for things any more. I have come to look at stuff as needing dusting, packing away and keeping track of or move around to make more room for new stuff. Some stuff we continue to hold for our children who are still raising children that bring so much stuff into their homes that they just don’t have room for those things we are storing for them until some future date when said children will leave and take their stuff along with them (in their dreams!)
As for those things that are supposed to bring back fond memories of events and people from my past, I am so used to having them around, I no longer see them much less remember the events and people. This isn’t totally true. Guests coming into our home will notice and ask questions that draw my attention to an object or picture. I remember when once visiting my cousin Franny in Wisconsin and commenting on a vase sitting on her buffet. She handed it to me and said, “Take it, It’s yours. I am downsizing.” I kept my mouth shut after that. I may start that practice.
The memories, on the other hand, are still there in my head more and more like feelings than visuals. I don’t have to look at the little banners Bernie and I got at the end of our service trip in Guatemala in order to remember. The experience comes to mind every time I see on the news information about those coming to our southern boarders trying to escape poverty and violence in their home countries of central America. I remember that the parents of Guatemala love their children as much as we love ours and I feel pain when I see children ripped from their mothers arms. I recall when seeing immigrants in our area wearing their colorful garb how color changed the look of poverty as we walked the streets of Guatemala. I don’t need the artifacts to recall the smiles of children running about in bare feet and t-shirts depicting American baseball teams, getting all excited about the bubbles we brought.
As for gifts given to us by friends and relatives over the years, I remember the kindness and love that prompted them. My cousin Franny remembered, too, and she made it a practice to give these items back to their givers. I am not sure whether that is a necessarily an appreciated practice, but she didn’t have to deal with the item when she and her sister moved into senior housing. Her attitude was that she was going to discard it anyway. If someone liked it enough to give it to her, they might like it enough to either have it back or pass it on to someone else.
My problem right now is that stuff keeps coming in. I don’t live alone. Much of what I have I share ownership with others. The day will come when most will be gone. My friend Olie, now living at Good Shepherd care facility, has few of her belongings hanging on her wall or occupying the shelves of her dresser. Unfortunately, she wasn’t able to choose what would be saved and she misses some things. But, so far, she still has the memories that those lost items once evoked. And she still remembers me. For this I am grateful.