I’m wondering if you have experienced the loss of a loved one. If the answer is “yes”, I’m wondering if you were the one responsible for the disposal of the stuff. You know, the house, the car, the office; taking care of any animals etc. If so, you know that it is very difficult in those moments to know what do with it all.
Did you find yourself asking questions like: “Should I keep all those old golf tournament photos?”; “What should I do with all of these files? Do I keep them in case they are meaningful to the estate?”; “Marie Kondo says I should thank each item for giving me joy and then throw it out; but I am not feeling any joy right now so what do I do?”. Here’s what we did: we emptied a 5000 square foot house and a 1/4 of a floor of an office tower in 7 days. It took an army of family and friends and lots of booze (the hard stuff). A lot of the items went to Habitat for Humanity, GoodWill, and The Women’s Shelter. My brother took some things and I took a bunch of stuff and put it all in a storage locker. I could barely close the door. And then I left it there for 12 years. Yes, that’s right; 12 years. See photo of said locker:
In fact, my husband did make a trip to the locker after about 10 years – I think in a fit of desperation. You know, “We have to clean out that locker.”; followed by “I am going to clean out that locker – it really makes no sense to keep paying monthly to store all that stuff.” He had a point. When I actually went to clean out the locker, the manager of the storage company told me that she came across my husband in the hall and observed him rummaging through the locker muttering “What is all this junk? Seriously, Heather!”. Poor man. He did give it a go, though.
What was it that made me decide to finally follow Eminem’s advice and clean out my closet? I’m not sure. I suddenly had the energy and the desire to get it done. It took myself and my friend 4 hours to clean the locker out. Most of it went in the garbage. The rest I brought home and displayed around the basement. My children selected a few things. My brother selected a few things and I was left with the rest of it. I came upon a box and found within some wonderful, old black and white photos. I also found this:
This photo made me laugh out loud! What on earth was going on that prompted my Dad and my Grandpa (I would estimate Grandpa was in his 80s at the time) to put on cowboy hats and get out the guns? Oh yes, that is probably where the scotch came in. My brother told me that he was the one who took the photo. He would have been a teenager and I bet he was sneaking some scotch while the big boys weren’t looking. It hit me that three generations of Heasman men were involved in this photo. When I reflect further on this photo, I know it’s also about forgiveness. My Dad and Grandpa hadn’t seen eye to eye on some things and perhaps this elaborate dress up took them back to a time when those things didn’t matter. I was then struck by the fact that both my Grandfather and my Father died in exactly the same manner: they both dropped dead of massive heart attacks and they were both alone when these events occurred. I remember my Dad being really upset by my grandfather passing alone. Isn’t it interesting that my Dad met the same end. So, I also look at this photo as a reunion of sorts: “Hey, buddy, that dropping dead thing wasn’t too bad, was it?”. Now I need a scotch.
I am sure that I saw this photo 12 years ago and I am sure that I did not appreciate all that it stood for in that moment. Imagine if I had followed Marie Kondo’s advice and thrown it away? I would not be feeling the joy that I do as a result of sharing this story with you.
So, if you’re going through something like this; I get it. Try not to be too hard on yourself. If the things really are junk; get rid of them. If you’re not sure; hold onto them. You’ll know when you’re really ready to deal with the big “purge”. And, to those items I have chosen to keep; thank you for giving me joy and don’t worry – you’re safe from the bin for a while.