All week I’ve been moving pictures off walls and hauling things to Good will. Rainy days do this to me. But how can you give away your grandmother’s cut glass candy dish? Or your mother’s oval plate with the robin on it? What about the Girl Scout mug your daughter brought you from summer camp when she was ten? Or the Christmas plate given to you by your son? Some things are just treasures.
What I have decided to do is to keep only the things I’ll want to move to a small cottage or independent living apartment one day. Not any time soon, mind you, but I want to be ready when the time comes. I don’t ever want to stay too long at the fair, the way my mother did, never being able to part with anything. When she would decide to give something away it came to me, of course.
I’ve had to be firm with myself, realizing that because she passed things down to me that she could never leave behind does not mean I must love them the way she did. It’s OK to release them back into the universe. This morning I found myself dancing to some Gordon Lightfoot on the stereo in the living room, no longer burdened with things I don’t love enough to dust. It’s liberating.
I’ve also been changing furniture around. The 4-drawer file cabinet went, giving me the bright idea to exchange the tall table at the end of the sofa in my cozy office with the smaller heart-shaped table in the guest bedroom. It has a glass top that lifts up and underneath the glass I keep one of my mother’s first readers. It’s priceless to me. Next to this, under the glass, there’s a tiny book of Ladies Etiquette from the late 1800s that I bought at a museum sale. The pages are falling out but I can’t give it away.
A sweet picture in a white frame with rosebuds on it sits on top of the glass on this heart-shaped table. I call it my inner child photo. When I worked full time the photo sat on the corner of my desk to remind me to protect my inner child. Office bullies are everywhere. They don’t just exist in schools, and just because we grow up, the bullies don’t always go away. Sometimes we even live with them.
There’s a small lamp beside my photo, reminding me to look to the light, and a sweet Joan Walsh Anglund paperweight from my friend, Gail, in Riverside, CA. She gave this to me years ago. It pictures two little girls with bows in their hair, each holding a doll, & has ‘Friendship’ written at the top. Another treasure. It reminds me to keep friends close.
As I change pictures on the walls, move furniture around and de-clutter, I realize that I’m also changing places, from the younger self I remember from my youth, and even as a young mom with new babies in my arms, to the older person I will become. I don’t want it to be such a big surprise the way it has been for my mother. I want to be ready for it, and live through this phase with joy. Besides, I always was a good Girl Scout. It’s in my nature to be prepared.