I recently visited my mother and her husband who just moved into assisted living a couple months ago, after being in the same house on a farm for decades. But in their eighties, the large property, Wisconsin winters, an aging farmhouse, and significant medical issues had taken a toll. In their heads they knew it was time to downsize, but their hearts weren’t convinced. Then things went pretty fast when they hit the top of the wait list openings at their 1st choice apartment to move to.
Their extended family out there had a few weekends available - three to be exact – to move a couple who have collected things all their lives (tractors – real, full size tractors - and butter dishes and churns - hundreds of them), and every piece of paper ever utilized in decades of running dairies and equipment repair businesses (and no computer).
I wasn’t in on the move, since I live a few thousand miles away, and didn’t know all these plans were suddenly being put in place. I was definitely the lucky one. We all know that moving isn’t fun, but this was a monumental task. It exposed how critical the need was for the move, with unknown mold and other hazards that have likely negatively impacted them both.
Two large dumpsters, a shipping pod, and many, many boxes (and likely some tears) later, they were settled in their new home, still surrounded by things they knew and loved, just not so much of it (no full size tractors – but some crazy cool antique models).
I look around my house, and the shop, and the guest house-cum-storage building, and the…well, suffice it to say we have a lot of stuff. Some good stuff. Some not so good. Life is short, and getting shorter, every day. What would I leave for my family to deal with under similar circumstances? Am I attached to all of it? Can I start editing my life down now, so they don’t have to later? Yes. I can. And I have, to some extent, but there’s still a way to go.
How about you? Would you leave behind an unfair amount of “stuff” for your family to deal with? Are those treasures you’ve collected something that brings a smile to your face when you see them, or a frown because you have to dust them? Are your closets hiding things that seemed so important at one time, but they’ve been there so long you no longer even see them? Family heirlooms that no one else wanted, and which have no real meaning for you except that you feel obligated to keep them “in the family” no matter what?
Maybe this should be a pre-New Year's resolution, since you'll likely have even more "stuff" by the time Christmas is over.