I received an email this week from a reader, J. I wanted to share it with you, as it’s so poignant.
“It’s so sad when what you leave is just a mess.
My MIL thought she was keeping the family’s history safe, storing heirlooms for generations and keeping the stories and traditions alive for each item’s use. But there are only 2 grandchildren, neither of whom really grew up knowing of those stories, traditions nor caring about these items. And my SILs aren’t into the family history nor into any inherent value the items might have for ‘retro fashion’.
In recent years, my in-laws were increasingly reluctant to throw anything out or rationalise any of their space. Everything is crammed in – dried flower arrangements from the 80s (amalgamated from those given for meaningful occasions now forgotten) stand among the photos on top of the entertainment unit full of videos no-ones watches, CDs no-one listens to, cassettes no-one remembers…the glass and china cabinet, the linen closet, her wardrobe, all are the same: full of memories no-one can unlock any more because my FIL has Alzheimers and most of the last 50 years are a blur.
We have scraps of notes for a family history, never followed up. Scraps of anonymous photos and handsewing, kept because ‘someone’ made them or was in them, we’ll never know who. My SILs aren’t interested in helping me clean up. FIL wants to sell what he can, and there’s little that’s saleable because of how it was all kept, jammed in with the plastic bags and the pantyhose, the handcreams and tissues.
I keep thinking we’re dealing with losing her just 2 weeks ago; we shouldn’t also have to deal with 20-year-old misshapen Tupperware, 10-year-old takeaway containers, 6 bags of old medicines; 2 cupboards of chipped kitchenware that are 40 years out of date and not used for the last 10………..
It’s heart-breaking. “