We’re moving. After 41 years in the same house, we’re downsizing to a smaller house we own on the same property. Moving across a driveway shouldn’t be all that difficult. Right? Turns out it’s as hard as moving cross town or cross country. That is in the preparation stages.
Now, I’m not a hoarder, I swear I’m not, but I do keep things much longer than necessary. My mother did this, so did her mother. Her mother may have been considered a hoarder, but she had good reason. Raising her children during the Great Depression meant she saved things that might be used and reused. That habit carried over to the remainder of her life. Balls of string, bundles of newspapers, magazines, books, all tied, empty Dairy Queen Containers, stuff like that.
So I come by it honestly. My daughter on the other hand, is just the opposite. If she doesn’t use something in a few months to a year, she gets rid of it. Sometimes to her dismay, after she discovers she might have needed it after all.
Guess who is helping me discard all this stuff? Why, my daughter, of course. And she’s rigorous, thorough and finite in her judgments. We’ve boxed and sent to the library over 200 books, both hard and soft cover. Bet I’ve saved almost that many because I convinced her that if they are signed personally to me by the author, they deserve to be kept. She bought that. So books signed by James Lee Burke, Jeffrey Deaver, Jodi Thomas, and Lisa Wingate, to name only a few, are safe.
I have a tee shirt collection from places I’ve been, things I’ve done and people I’ve met. When she held up the shirt I have from the day I flew with the first man in outer space, Joe Kittinger, she said, “Too bad he didn’t sign it.” Yeah, maybe it is, but that shirt ain’t going nowhere. I can be finite too. Another has a photo of the Topaz Man, who posed for some of my book covers with Topaz/Penguin in the 90s. No one touches that baby. So I’m keeping my shirts from OWL, The Wild Rose Press-Cactus Rose, OWFI, and the list goes on. She gave me no grief, just sat and patiently folded them neatly, put them in a drawer separate from those I said I wanted to continue wearing. She’s mortified that some of the shirts are 20 years old.
Oh, dear, the house is filling up with boxes as closet after closet, bookcase after bookcase is emptied and either sent off to be sold or donated or boxed to take to the new house. I’m handling it very well, I think, considering the alternative. We’ll continue to live out here in the country I love so much, rather than in some assisted living place in a crowded town where sounds from cars and people rattle about in the air in a cacophony of noise.
Here the songs of birds, frogs chirping from the nearby creek, the whisper of leaves in the sycamore tree outside the window, the fragrance of lilacs and magnolia fill the air. Deer walk through the yard, red foxes visit. And I can sit outside on my porch and hear, see and smell them all.
But back to the subject of hoarding. I think some people are simply too lazy to throw stuff away when the house fills up until they can’t move through it. Others do have a disease, I’ll admit. Mine has never done that, but I’ve filled every secret nook and cranny with memorabilia from a long life well lived. And it’s hard to see some of it go. But better now than later when I’d have no control over what is kept to pass down to my children and grandchildren.
What are some of the things you keep because you can’t bear to part with them?