Last week after the funeral, I helped my parents and my sister clean out my Grandmother’s apartment. Just a few months ago, she had moved from a larger apartment to this smaller one that we were clearing out, so she had already downsized and gotten rid of quite a bit of her stuff. She had told my father and my sister about the history of several items from the family or with significant sentimental value, and many of these had already been set aside or given away to family members. So most of what was left was decoration, or everyday household items.
I’ve watched “The Story of Stuff” several times with my children, and I’ve worked to tame my own pack-rat tendencies. I was a FlyBaby for a while, though I have fallen out of practice. So in my mind there is a war between saving the landfill, and saving my home from becoming a landfill. Much of Grandma’s belongings were donated to Churches United for the Homeless, and the medical equipment went to HERO (Healthcare Equipment Recycling Organization). Both of these are organizations my Grandmother’s generosity did support or would have supported. Some things went to the dumpster. And a lot went back to my parent’s home.
I kept being asked if I wanted any of her household items. If I did not live so far away, and have to figure out how to get it home, I might have said yes to more things. Thankfully, I did not come home burdened with a lot of “stuff”.
There was a potential for hard feelings in the family with some of the sentimental items. I’m not sure where Grandma’s will was, or whether or not she specified who got which items. So there was a challenge between two family members over one item. Apparently Grandma had told each of them at different times that they could have the item. There was a certain amount of tension all week about it. Fortunately, it was resolved by the end of the week.
It really made me think about an audio course I listened to several years ago, called LegaLees, by Lee Phillips. Much of the course was about asset protection, but he also goes into wills and probate. He uses the phrase, “the dollies and the doilies,” frequently in that section, and when it came to who got what, that phrase kept going through my mind. Ultimately, none of Grandma’s “stuff” was so important to me that it was worth hurting the relationships with my family members. I was not attached to the material possessions. Yes, I did come home with a few of them, but if someone else in my family really wanted them, I would have acquiesced to their desires, because relationships are more important than things. Most of my family felt the same way, and for that i am truly grateful.
Now I hope that I can impart that same feeling to my own children.