So the 3-6″ inches of snow turned into 8-10″ so yesterday turned into a snowed in Sunday. After sitting on the couch for three hours knitting and making only minimal progress (have I discussed how much I DETEST size 1 needles?!?) I decided I needed to do something that would give me a sense of accomplishment.
Instead, I headed down in the basement to try and organize a bit. Sigh.
I’ve talked about my basement before. It’s out of control. When we finished half of it last April we consolidated all of
our my junk into the other half. Little by little I have tried to muck through and weed out. Unfortunately if I don’t stop adding things to the piles, I don’t think I’ll ever make any real headway.
I’ve decided to be ruthless. Let’s face it, I haven’t been able to find half of that stuff in over six months, I couldn’t possibly need it. If only it were that easy.
I quickly filled a bucket with stuff to pass. This was the low hanging fruit. The things that have slowly made their way to the front of the room in an attempt to get them out eventually. I also added a couple of totes of toys that I had packed up in an effort to make space in the play room which had promptly been forgotten. Out of sight, out of mind really applies here so I’m turning that into out of mind, out of my house.
I also made the decision to throw out some of the costumes I’ve made. As I reflected on it, I realized that I’ve got the pictures and that’s enough. I don’t need to keep a falling apart costume that will never be worn again. Into the trash. Yikes.
But again, those were the easy ones. The gimmes. Once those have been dealt with, the real sorting starts. And that is where my brain starts to malfunction.
I’ve talked about being a ‘keeper’. And not in that good ‘she’s a keeper’ sort of way. In that ‘holy crap, she keeps everything’ sort of way. Ticket stubs, subway maps, pictures, cards, used tissues. Just kidding. Those make it to the trash… hopefully. But yesterday, I stumbled upon these.
The tarnish makes them hard to read but they say Rachel and Roland 1941 – 1986. They were goblets from their 45th wedding anniversary. Rachel and Roland were Steve’s great aunt and uncle. I never met Uncle Roland, but the stories about him are that of legend in Steve’s family. If you ask me it’s a great sign of one’s character when people’s eyes light up when they start to tell a story about them.
I met Aunt Rachel, but by the time I got to know her the Alzheimer’s had already stolen parts of her personality. Not her bright smile and sparkling eyes, though. Those I remember. She would join us for dinner on Saturdays after church when Steve and I dined with the ‘old people’.
Somehow in the way that these things often occur, I ended up with their anniversary goblets in my basement. I don’t remember exactly how it happened, but I’m sure it went something like this: Rachel moved out of her house and into the nursing home. My mother in law was in charge of emptying and selling the house and offered odds and ends and household items to Steve and I. There in the box were the goblets. The thought of that moment, that anniversary celebration, being left in a box compelled me to take them. To store them. To become unable to part with them. To project all my fears of someday forgetting or being forgotten onto two tarnished cups.
Sigh. I am the memory keeper.
And in the end I keep them out of fear. The fear that comes with the acute realization that one day, I will be a box. Well, in my case, many boxes. Of stuff. Of materialized memories. What if I am forgotten? Maybe if I keep enough stuff, it will somehow keep those memories alive?
But in writing this, I see the fault in my words. I realize that I don’t want to be the goblets in the box. I want to be the sparkle in someone’s eye when they tell a story about me. I want to be the memories that live on in the lives of those that I have loved, or will love. Maybe I am doing Rachel and Roland a disservice by keeping those goblets. By distilling their memories in my mind down to these discarded things I am cheating them out of the very real legacy they left. See without ever having met Roland, I am positive that I would have liked him. And man, what I wouldn’t give to try Aunt Rachel’s famous cherry cheesecake. The love and generosity that they gave so freely to everyone they came in contact with… that is how their memory is preserved. Not in those goblets.
Doesn’t mean I’m getting rid of them, mind you. Nope, those are there as a reminder to me to get rid of my own stuff. To eliminate the material and create actual memories. Like taking the two hours I spent in the basement going through garbage and spending it with my kids. Making memories instead of drowning in them. I want to get to a point where my possessions don’t own me. To get there I need to be reminded that who I am is the legacy I leave, not the stuff that I leave for others to sort through, sift through and eventually discard. Those goblets didn’t end up in that box because nobody cared about Rachel and Roland. On the contrary, they ended up in the box because those who truly knew them had a lifetime of memories filling their hearts and they didn’t need the goblets to remind them of that.
And THAT is something to strive for.