Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Stuff, formerly known as "memories".

This past Saturday I was invited by a work friend to lunch. His aunt has a cottage near me and he asked me to come over. The lunch was good, the company was good, the scenery was beautiful. One of the reasons he wanted to talk is because of why he was there. His aunt, like my mother has Alzheimer's disease, unlike mom however this lady is experiencing a rapid decline. In as little as two years she went from a strong independent woman, to someone who doesn't always recognizes family and friends. I guess he just needed someone with an understanding ear.

His aunt had no children of her own and treated my friend like he was her son, as he got older he began to return the bond by watching out for her. Suddenly now he finds himself in my world, having to place her in care and take control of her finances. When I went over he was a bit down, she will no longer be returning to her beloved cottage and he was packing up some of her "stuff". I told him I completely understand the feeling, I am always doing the same thing here.

Looking over the cottage, even though I have never met this woman, I got a glimpse of her life. The walls, shelves and glass cabinets had on display favorite memories, moments and events. A clear timeline of life as well, pictures of her as a young woman, my friend as a little boy visiting his aunt to go swimming, her straightening his tie just before his wedding, her holding his first child, events to present day. Souvenirs from trips, vacations and celebrations, things that had so much meaning to her, now have no meaning at all.

I find the same thing here, one of the hardest things to do was decorate for Christmas, there are boxes of decorations from before I was born, those boxes also hold sentimental value. Yes some things my sister and I will keep but this is a large house full of stuff, accumulated over my parents lifetime. It's amazing the amount of stuff we keep. There are so many things that no longer have any worth, until you need it, then it's worth a lot. I half joke with people that I feel like I'm throwing away mom and dad every time I send things to the dump. The truth is I am throwing out memories.

It's odd but there is a feeling of sacredness to someone's house after they are gone, like all the stuff they cared about with special significance, is a personal museum to that person, maybe that's what feels obscene about having to clear it out. It's as if you are wiping away that person's time here or reducing them to a box of photos.

Such is life, no use in feeling down about it, as the saying goes "it is, what it is". I think as I get older I am seeing what life is about. It's not who ever has the most toys wins as some say, I think it's more who ever is content with the toys they have, and has the most people in their life to share them with, wins.


Anonymous said...

What a touching post. Bittersweet and poignant all at once. I remember as my grandparents aged how they slowly drifted into Alzheimers and how the disease took them away. One day they were there, and over time it was a body that looked like them, but it wasn't them anymore. Their home was, as you say, a museum. When they passed, we inherited our favorite reminders of them. My grandmother's portrait hangs in my bedroom wall, and I'm reminded of her every time I see her.

But, WAIT! What's this? Paragraphs? Multiple of them? What happened to the ............ I thought that was part of your blog's identity? Or am I imagining things?

John Going Gently said...

My sister told me once
" you don't own antiques ......you just look after them for a while"
That comment helped me when I look around our cottage and look at the grandfather clock and the paintings and the China.....
When we are gone some one else will love our belongings hopefully just as much as we did

Anonymous said...

You have written a very moving post. As someone who has moved twice in the last two years, your writing brought back memories of me having to decide what to give away and what to keep from family heirlooms. Some of the things I part with I still miss, but in the end they are just things, and I still have the memories. Alzheimers is a scary disease. Every time I screw something up or foget a student's name, I start to wonder....will this happen to me?

Old Lurker said...

I don't think there is a way to win. You lose no matter what happens.

On the other hand, good on you for supporting your work friend. With sympathetic ears like those, you will be quite the boyfriend for some lucky soul some day.

Sooo-this-is-me said...

Walter, a body that looks like them but isn't them, thank you, sometimes I need someone to say the very thing I feel.

You are seeing correct, blogger is finally allowing me to make paragraphs, it has been driving me wacky, I have very limited ability on my device for some reason.

Sooo-this-is-me said...

John, your sister is correct, that's an interesting way to look at it. I am sad that my sister and I are the end of the line for our immediate family.

Sooo-this-is-me said...

Michael 54, it's one of the reasons I hate moving. I will probably have an estate auction in the spring, that should clear out a lot of things.

I worry constantly about Alzheimer's, mom started young but had dad and I to help. I have nobody.

Sooo-this-is-me said...

Mr Lurker, ok if you want to get picky about it, we all lose! Lol

My last boyfriend would disagree with you! ;P

Anonymous said...

He who feels the hurt of someone has the love of everybody.

Sooo-this-is-me said...

Mr Anon E Mous, (I assume Mr) I wish that was true.