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Stuff. We all have it. Housefulls of it. Some of it has meaning. Some of it has purpose. Some we’ve forgotten is there.

I’m at a point in life that my friends and I are dealing with aging parents. Along with that comes dealing with their stuff. A lifetime of accumulated stuff. What do you do with it?

A friend of mine is moving her parents close to her and found them a very nice townhouse to rent. After some thought, she had to let it go because it was small and there wasn’t enough room for all their stuff. And her parents will not let go of any of their stuff without being very unhappy about it. Her experience reminded me of when I helped move my folks from Colorado to Texas. They wanted to take all of their stuff with them, which was a massive amount.

These experiences made me wonder about myself. When and if I reach a point that it would be best if gave up my stuff, could I? How much does my stuff mean to me? Does it define who I am?   If something happened to me today, what would my family do with all my stuff?

Hubby and I have downsized some in recent years and I have not missed anything that we donated or sold or trashed. Except for that box that had the gowns and blankets I brought our children home from the hospital and some of their favorite toys. That box disappeared after a garage sale. I still miss that one box of things.

In spite of downsizing, I kept a lot of stuff, mostly my art and craft supplies and books. I still have a tube of oil paint that Cecil Jackson bought for me in the early 1970s. Is that hanging on too long?

I have some things that I will not give up until I’m gone. Photographs. Or as I think of them “the historical record of my life events.” I’ve also kept letters and special cards from special people. I have letters from both of my grandmothers and other people long gone. Also, school work and gifts from my children. Awards, certificates, and clippings showing that I did something good for others. Those types of things mean nothing to others and will probably be thrown away when I’m gone, but while I’m around, they are very special reminders of a life well lived.

I’ve disposed of some stuff, but then bought more stuff. Different stuff. Now I have my quilting supplies which are extensive. I love quilting so I’m very attached to all of that. Could I give it up without complaining? I’m not sure. Same with my books. I love books and it’s really hard to let go of some of them. I can’t explain it. I love the information they hold inside. Do I need that many books? Probably not, especially since I have a Kindle, but there’s something about holding a book and turning the pages that cannot be replaced by electronics.

When I am an “aging parent,” I hope that I will not add stress to those who look after me by clinging to my stuff. I hope I have the courage to let it go because it’s best for the situation. I hope they let me keep the letters and photos and such. They are tangible evidence of memories that make me smile and remember what a great life I’ve been privileged to live. I can’t take stuff with me, but what I will take with me are my memories and my love for others. Those things aren’t stuff. Those are the things life is made of.

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