Since “almost” retiring 18 months ago, I’ve done a lot of what my mom jokingly called, “squozzing down.”
I’ve packed and given away boxes of hardly used dishware, knick-knacks, and holiday decorations, a book-case worth of books. With minimal hand-wringing, I’ve donated thousands of dollars’ worth of suites and other “work” clothes.
So, why are the shrunken t-shirt Jim bought me on our first date and my threadbare Margate circa mid-1970 cut-offs still in the drawer? Why do these relics—that no longer fit me—never make the donate-or-toss-it cut?
When my mom died several years ago, my siblings and I went through the ritual disbursing of her stuff. I carefully choose what to keep—the Hummel I bought her when I back-packed through Europe, a chipped vase from my childhood, a mama and baby snowman from her holiday collection, the library desk where I spent hours as a teen talking on the phone. I kept her red polo shirt with blue flowers on the collar—not because I’ll ever wear it—it just looks so much like her. Beyond that short list and some family pictures, there was a lifetime of her stuff I was able to let go.
When I came across a tattered envelope with, “Cindy’s Wedding,” scrawled across the front in my mother’s handwriting, I could not bring myself to toss it. Something about her handwriting as familiar to me as her smile and her voice, just like that red polo, felt too personal to let go.
I can’t explain it. Maybe that’s because there isn’t a rational explanation for what we keep.
What do you think? When you sort through your stuff, do you know why you keep what you keep and why you let other stuff go?