Home Forums Challenges Sentimental Clutter What are you going to leave behind you? NYTimes article

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    • #158644
      Zora
      Member

      http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/07/12/how-to-lose-a-legacy/

      Interesting essay and I love the pictures.

      You have to register with the NYT to see the article, but they do keep your info safe and they don’t spam you. I believe that you can use a proxy service to read the NYT, but I don’t have an URL for one; you’d have to google for it.

    • #167337
      Claycat
      Member

      What are you going to leave behind you? NYTimes article

      Good article! I just sent the link to my SIL who has clothes from high school. She is in her sixties. She has a lot of stuff and wants to keep it. She says when she dies, someone else can deal with it. LOL! I said, Poor _____, about her daughter. LOL

      That’s one reason I’m trying to get rid of some things. I don’t want my son to have to deal with it all. I’m only sixty, but time passes quickly, and I don’t want to be eighty and still have a lot of stuff!

    • #167338
      jbeany
      Member

      What are you going to leave behind you? NYTimes article

      My 92 year old grandmother passed away in June. She wouldn’t get rid of anything either, and we got used to hearing “You can throw it all out when I die!” Yup, thanks for the permission, Gram. We filled a 20 yard construction dumpster in the first 4 days of cleaning – and that was just the stuff we couldn’t possibly sell or recycle. I just finished loading the last of the leftover stuff that I couldn’t even give away for free into the second dumpster, which was a 10 yard. It was full to the brim, just like the first one.
      Do your family a favor – sort now! I have no idea if something truly important and meaningful to my grandmother was lost in the pile. There was so much to sort that in the end, we kept hardly anything because we couldn’t stand dealing with it all.

    • #167340
      Claycat
      Member

      What are you going to leave behind you? NYTimes article

      Gosh! What a nightmare for you!

      Don’t worry! I don’t have near that much stuff! I’ve gotten rid of so much already. 🙂

    • #167359
      JuliaJayne
      Member

      What are you going to leave behind you? NYTimes article

      Good article.

      I found this interesting…

      Self-storage, says Richard Burt, a professor of English at the University of Florida, is about storing the self. When we place our personal effects in an air-conditioned locker, we put away part of our physical and emotional being, keeping it on life support for as long as we can foot the bill.

      Maybe this could be applied to some of our hobbies as well. Do we keep them around because we don’t want to let go of that piece of our former self?

    • #167394
      lucy1965
      Member

      What are you going to leave behind you? NYTimes article

      @trillie My husband’s catching on that one, I’m afraid — he has a violin he hasn’t played in 15 years and amateur radio gear that’s sitting in boxes in our basement. Those are his identity issues to sort out, but it makes me sad, now, to see anything forgotten and neglected. And there’s the issue of our long-hoped-for move overseas: the equipment won’t be any use there, and is he any more likely to make the time to play when we’ll have a whole new continent full of happy distractions?

      I will admit to a fondness for Richard’s comment @#42: “I have done my duty and my duty does not include cherishing their ‘stuff’.” Based on observations of the uproar after the deaths of my grandparents, there is likely to be so much brawling amidst my own family members (biological and those acquired through several remarriages) when my parents die that I will be glad of an ocean’s distance between us. I have copies of the important family photos and a handful of physical artifacts that were given to me while the giver was still alive, and that is enough.

    • #167413
      irishbell
      Member

      What are you going to leave behind you? NYTimes article

      My folks have a raised ranch style condo, 3 bedrooms- 2 up -1 used as an office, (with plenty of un-officey stuff in there), and 1 bedroom down. The rest of the downstairs is a large family room, which we used once or twice a year for family gatherings, but after both parents had serious medical issues, we moved the gatherings to my home(with reluctance from my mom) where there is room for everyone to have a seat so as not to have to sit on the floor and a seat at a table, so as not to have to balance a plate on your lap while sitting on the floor! Anywho-besides the family room is an exercise room/toy room which they never use to exercise and the kids are too old to play with the toys they won’t get rid of. Then there are 2 large storage spaces, with clothes, boxes for birthday gifts for kids, grandkids and great grandkids. So basically their whole bottom level is storage- I can’t even imagine going thru that stuff when the time comes. I can’t think of more than a handful of things I’d want. I can’t imagine leaving all that stuff for your kids to go through. There are 3 of us- 2 of which are not the most helpful. So, it will be up to me. Obviously not the worst problem in the world- but what a mess to leave behind.
      Sorry for the long post, but with both parents not well at this point, this whole thing weighs on my mind – if I let it.

    • #167420
      pkilmain
      Member

      What are you going to leave behind you? NYTimes article

      @jbeany – we did the same with my parents’ house in 2005 – except they were still alive, just in nursing home (mother) and assisted living (stepdad). We had 3 of the 4 kids (plus my husband) there and it took a week to clean out their 4 room house in Florida, including my blind stepbrother shredding years of old bank statements. My stepdad had taken what he wanted to his AL place, and we sold the car first day. Otherwise, we filled up a large dumpster, donated clothing (much with tags still on) to thrift store, and dragged some stuff (like an ancient exercise bike) to the curb on trash day (it was gone in an hour!). I kept 1 fruitbowl that had been my grandmother’s, one jacket of my mom’s, and the paperwork I needed to sell the house. [My stepdad had given us all the family photos several years before when my mom went to the nursing home.] My sister tooks a handful of hand-crocheted doilies. Don’t know what stepsis/brother took, but not much. When I hired a cleaner, the woman who came to price the job volunteered to take all of the kitchen stuff for a shelter she volunteered at. Yay! ANd with an aggressive realator, I sold the house within 2 weeks of coming home.

      Remembering all of this – and how basically we saved nothing of our parents’ possessions spurs me on in my decluttering efforts!

    • #167431
      repete
      Member

      What are you going to leave behind you? NYTimes article

      Years ago, my sister bought a house from the family of a lady who passed away. Her son said he was going to “leave a few things” for my sister. What he did was take anything of monetary value and left everything else. He left his mother’s clothes, personal hygiene items, food, all her keepsakes, etc. My sister had no idea he had done this. She comes with all her stuff on moving day and finds she can’t move in until she moves all this stuff out.

      Moral of the story: Always ask for an inspection before closing on a house.

    • #167456
      jbeany
      Member

      What are you going to leave behind you? NYTimes article

      @pkilmain – yes, my sister and I have both become ruthless purgers. This is our second estate clearing, since our mother passed away a decade ago. Both mom and grandma saved EVERYTHING. At the end of Gram’s estate yard sale, we both raised our hands and swore not to turn into them. It’s not genetic, right? I hope!

    • #167553
      GardenGirl
      Member

      What are you going to leave behind you? NYTimes article

      @JuliaJayne — “Maybe this could be applied to some of our hobbies as well. Do we keep them around because we don’t want to let go of that piece of our former self?”

      Could be. I haven’t played my flute in years and years, but I’m not quite ready to give it away. I’m happy to lend it out… but I’m not quiiiiite ready to give it up altogether yet. I liked that part, too, about “storing the self”; it’s an interesting perspective.

      I also liked the part about the woman who lost a bunch of possessions because her ex didn’t pay the rent on the storage place:
      “These were cherished things that couldn’t be replaced. But dismay quickly gave way to feelings of lightness and freedom. She had come to enjoy living in an open space unburdened by things. It felt good to be emptied out.”
      That’s a neat feeling/perspective to contemplate. Something to aim for, maybe. (I know I’m not there yet.)

      Edited to add: There are some thoughtful and touching comments on that article, on the same Web page as the article.

    • #167562
      GardenGirl
      Member

      What are you going to leave behind you? NYTimes article

      I’m reading the comments on that article at the NY Times, and just came across the one that lucy mentioned, from someone named Richard (“I have done my duty and my duty does not include cherishing their ‘stuff’.”). He said a couple of things that I thought were really striking: “I no longer am oppressed by guilt passed down through the family like stocks and bonds” and “I am no longer haunted by my dead relatives and all of their fears, regrets, failed hopes and demands on my time.” Sounds like a heck of a legacy to free oneself from.

      My mother has been gradually working on sorting through the papers and Stuff in her house, and I’m very grateful for that. My dad’s house, on the other hand, is still very full. I’m willing to help clear some of that out (we live in the same area), but until I have a handle on my own stuff, I’m not well situated to do much work on his & stepmom’s house.

      I’m 49, with no kids, but already thinking about making sure I don’t leave a house full of Stuff behind for someone else to deal with. (I’m not terribly acquisitive, and don’t like shopping, but when you live in one place for a couple of decades, Stuff has a way of accumulating.)

    • #168588
      Klyla
      Member

      What are you going to leave behind you? NYTimes article

      What am I going to leave behind me? Everything!

    • #168657
      Anonymous
      Inactive

      What are you going to leave behind you? NYTimes article

      My parents are downsizing right now and finding it amazingly hard to get family members to take things. We live far away,or have houses with not enough space or the decor to absorb the excess.

      Now they have gone through two rounds of garage sales and the house just got listed for sale. They are not at the end of the tunnel on the purge, but I think is is getting easier. Once you haul it outside for a yard sale and sit with it as strangers cast about for something they want, you begin to see that really, your “stuff” is just stuff. Send it to the church mission box, the Goodwill, the dump. Set it free so you can also be free!

      As they get away from their stuff I believe they will begin to feel that lightness and start to look ahead to their clutter-free apartment and their remarkable life where they don’t have to climb stairs, mow their own lawns or shovel snow.

    • #168679
      SunshineR
      Member

      What are you going to leave behind you? NYTimes article

      @AnotherDeb: I think you’re very wise and patient with your parents. If they can and will pack their favorite decorations/photos/etc first, maybe it will get easier for them.

      Do your parents have any family or friends who have already made the transition to downsizing? Maybe seeing someone else’s new remarkable life would be an encouragement, as well.

    • #169053
      Anonymous
      Inactive

      What are you going to leave behind you? NYTimes article

      Sunshine, Actually that exact thing happened as we were touring senior living facilities in June. As we were taking the tour of the place we all liked the best, a lady from their church came down the hall and insisted that they come see her apartment which was decorated like a model apartment, but with her personal stuff! Until then, I think they were still in the fear mode that was keeping them from beginning the process.

    • #169058
      SunshineR
      Member

      What are you going to leave behind you? NYTimes article

      AnotherDeb, I’m glad to hear that.

    • #169078
      charmed2482
      Member

      What are you going to leave behind you? NYTimes article

      ugh it says cockroaches eat the glue in book bindings? I didn’t know that.

    • #169081
      charmed2482
      Member

      What are you going to leave behind you? NYTimes article

      loving this from the comments on the article “Rat packers of the world, unite: We have nothing to lose but the Dumpsters we live in.”

    • #169082
      charmed2482
      Member

      What are you going to leave behind you? NYTimes article

      here’s another one “Why are we all so willing to believe that objects have souls? They’re not the person who used to own them. They’re not the memory of the fun time. They’re just a collection of ultimately meaningless molecules. This deep attachment to random inanimate things must seem incredibly weird to people without the disposable income and enormous compulsion to hoard that we’ve developed in North America. Chuck it all. And DON’T replace it. “

    • #169104
      Anonymous
      Inactive

      What are you going to leave behind you? NYTimes article

      Charmed: A cockroach in a jar with an old postage stamp can live 6 months on the glue alone, then another 6 months on the paper from the stamp.

    • #169106
      SunshineR
      Member

      What are you going to leave behind you? NYTimes article

      charmed: ooh. Just wait til I tell my SIL that she lives in a dumpster….or that the things she clings to do not have souls….

      I can’t wait until my place looks the way I want…making slow but steady progress.

    • #169143
      Patch
      Member

      What are you going to leave behind you? NYTimes article

      Enjoying this thread as well as the minimalism threads. My parents aren’t exactly hoarders, but the house they currently live in is bigger than the house we grew up in, for just the two of them (they do host visitors a lot though), so they do have a lot of relatively nice things that me and my sister (another sister has estranged herself from the family) will no doubt one day be tasked with finding new homes for. Yay. If it were up to me, when the day comes I’ll just have Goodwill/SalvArmy/AmVets back a truck up to the house. 😉 I wish they would start downsizing now, before their health gets any worse than it is already starting to do, and also so that anything they truly love can go to whom they want, while they are still alive to see them enjoy it.

      I’m not there yet, but the dread for that day I have to help empty out their house, and because of this my eighth year and counting of de-/uncluttering in my own home, my goal for my own Stuff in the meantime is at or near minimalism:

      * Owning nothing more than what I actively use and love, and always evaluating the “love” category (just how much does one woman and 3 cats need anyway?)

      * Being able to relocate myself and everything I own on a moment’s notice, using my own car, my own two hands and no one else’s (e.g. moving crew), and no vehicle larger than a cargo van

      * Living simply in a furnished studio-sized rental flat or a small unfurnished one-room or less cottage of my own, surrounded by nature, with no more furniture than a bed, a comfortable chair, and a few small tables

      * Decorating my walls with nothing unless I created it myself

      * Spending my days NOT in decluttering (because I OWN nothing left to declutter), but in doing activities that interest me or that simply provide a chance to rest

      I have no close family that I would particularly want to leave anything, much less burden with or have them “touch” my Stuff to get rid of it, so disposing of my own household falls to me alone, while I still can. “Never mind, I’ll do it myself.”

      Besides, I was born owning nothing, and when I leave this earth (which could be anytime, as no one is guaranteed a tomorrow) I want to leave in a similar manner, owning nothing, or as little as possible. As a preacher from my childhood church once said, “there are no U-Hauls behind a hearse.”

    • #169252
      charmed2482
      Member

      What are you going to leave behind you? NYTimes article

      “there are no U-Hauls behind a hearse.” I love that!

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