Thursday, June 30, 2011

Would You Keep It Just To Keep It?

I almost ran over my neighbor's pet pig this morning.
I'm thinking that would have been a disaster.

My mom and her siblings have been cleaning out my grandparent's house.
It's been an interesting and somewhat entertaining process to watch.
Years before my grandma died she went through her house and put tiny numbered stickers on the bottom of almost every thing she owned:  pictures, china, dolls, etc.
And then on a piece of paper that she guarded with her life, Grandma put names next to each number.
She showed me that list over and over again, and often asked my opinion about who should get what.
I knew it was safer to stay far away from such decisions, and so I mostly just kept my mouth shut.
Grandma had her favorites, and it was obvious that the list was biased towards those favorites.
If I cared more about 'stuff' I probably wouldn't find it as humorous as I do.

My mom accuses me of being a minimalist.  I rarely hold on to things for sentimental reasons. 
When my other grandpa died my parents were living far away in the land of Brazil, and so it was up to me to clean out his house.  It was a simple process.  I threw almost everything away, or gave it to good will.  There were a few things I kept and stored for my mom...and a few things I kept for myself.  My aunt took what she wanted for herself and her kids, and the rest I got rid of.

So when my mom came home Saturday night with a trailer full of stuff, and FIVE huge bags full of clothes from my grandma's closet I just shook my head.
When she put all of Grandma's costume jewelry out on the floor and asked each of her daughter's to choose what they wanted, I chose nothing.  That's when my mom just shook her head at me. 
Last Sunday afternoon Mom gathered all of her daughters around and said, "Let's go through these clothes.  I need you to help me decide if there is anything worth keeping."
At one point even my brother-in-law joined in on the fun.

My grandma was 90 something when she died and hadn't been shopping for years.
Also, Grandma was afraid to wash anything because of the possibility it would get ruined.
Grandma had 14 pair of white pants.  White pants that she wore every day of her life...even when she weeded the garden.
We didn't keep any of the white pants.
I think had we not been there, Mom would have kept more than she did, but we were pretty strict.
"Mom, you can't keep that."
"Don't even think about it...put it in the good will pile."
"No Mom...we do not want Grandma's lingerie."
"M.O.M - take that out of your to keep pile right now."

Bless her heart...
That mother of mine is just so sentimental.

When we finally finished with the last shirt, the good will pile was huge.
My sister kept a few things for her dress up box, and another sister actually kept one of Grandma's *cough* nightgowns.  She held it up and said, "Happy Anniversary to my husband," and my mom kept a pile for herself...with our blessing.

Every day I come to work and find a few more of Grandma's things added to the room that I was going to use as Emily's nursery, here in my office.
Mom doesn't have anywhere else to store it.
After dropping a few things off yesterday Mom called me.
"I have a proposition for you."
I don't know about you but when I hear the word proposition I think that there will be something in it for me.
Not that I'm a 'what's in it for me' kind of person...but when someone wants to make you a proposition, it implies that there might be a benefit for you.
"I have a few boxes of papers that we took out of Grandma's office," Mom began.
I quickly realized that this was not the beneficial kind of proposition.
"If I bring them to work and put them in that room, would you go through them when you have time and decide what we should keep and what we shouldn't?" Mom asked.
"You want ME to decide what you should do with Grandma's papers?" I asked.
"Yes.  I just don't have the energy to do it."
Funny thing about energy...I don't have it either, but I couldn't exactly say no.

But here's my concern.
Are my aunts and uncles, AND my mother, going to kill me when they find out that I threw everything away?
Because the likelihood of me tossing it all is so much greater than me keeping anything.
I've seen the kind of papers Grandma kept in her office.
Would you like to take a guess as to how many scrap books she filled with papers?
At least 112.

Oh...and too?
Mom and I have made a compromise.
She doesn't have to worry about going through her 'stuff' now...she can keep as much of it as she likes for sentimental reasons, as long as she doesn't come back to haunt us if we choose to get rid of it later.


Beth Zimmerman said...

You been watching Winnie the Pooh? :)

Brynn said...

Funny. Reminds me of Grandma Davis. She has a bunch of Marks grandmas jewelry, hats and even lingerie for the kids dress up box. Kind of creepy, but the kids love it.

Jessica said...

I'm not a saver either! My MIL has ROOMS in her house devoted only to things she's saving for posterity. May I never have to be the one to go through them!

Heather said...

I am with you. Less is more. I am not going to forget the people I love.

I have a necklace from my Granny, and from my other Grandma I have my dad's baby bracelet that he wore in the hospital, and some things she cross stitched.

I do not like stuff.

It was good that you were there to help your mom.

Elizabeth said...

I am not a nick-knack, chachki, keep it because it is sentimental kind of person (although I do admit to having two plaster statues in my little 'office' at home that are there because they were my grandma's and I didn't want them to go to the D.I.). I'm not a big fan of 'thrifting' for old tea cups or vases or Pyrex or vintage sheets. And if it was mine and I'm not using it anymore, I get rid of it. I find that universal principle of 'what comes around goes around' to be true. If I'm hoarding something just for the sake of hoarding it, well, then there just isn't room in my life for something new to come along. If I give away things I'm no longer using, I find that when I need something, it finds its way to me.

To be more succinct, keep the memories, not the stuff.

xo -E

P.S. If you need someone to take the blame when you throw out all those papers, you can tell your family it is my fault ;).

Bossy Betty said...

This post hit home as I am busy cleaning out stuff around here!

Amanda said...

I'd have loved to have one or two things that belonged to my grandmother but, I agree, one can take that premise too far. :)

Taylor said...

Now, why wouldn't you want the white pants?? :)

The Broderick Family Blog said...

My parents went through my grandma's house and threw out 13 DUMPSTERS of stuff. Yes, that's DUMPSTERS. In a tiny 2 bedroom, single-level home, that meant that the boxes of stuff went from the floor to the ceiling. Boxes full of newspaper, junk mail, towels, clothes, you name it. Keeping stuff just because a relative owned it is silly to me.

le Chef said...

Lingerie? Really? I'm sooo not going to visualize that one!

If your mom is like mine, and it sounds like she is, THROW IT OUT. Don't question it, just do it and be done with it. Better to ask forgiveness than permission.

..then you won't have to actually sort it.

imogene said...


Your mom knew you would through it all out. That's why she asked you to go through them, She knows they need to go, she doesn't have the heart to throw them away so she asked you to do it.
Have trouble help you.

Do mom a favor and go through them, do yourself a favor and do it as your have the energy.


Kerri said...

I went through this about a year and a half ago when my mom's uncle passed away(she was his only relative). I almost felt like I had to keep some stuff...but I didn't keep it for long. It made the trip home with me and then when we moved a month later it never came with us, except a table and chairs set with buffet that desperately need to be refinished....that's in storage.