My grandmother passed away a little while ago, so her house is going up for sale. All of her possessions are being gotten rid of. It isn’t sudden. My grandmother had been in and out of the hospital and she had moved to a senior’s residence a few months ago. Back in November I started helping my mom go through her belongings. Sorting through everything. This is garbage, this to donate, this to keep. We got rid of everything but the furniture and the very best of the “stuff”.
I thought we were going to have an estate sale, and I was really looking forward to it. I wasn’t going to receive any of the money from it, but I was looking forward to it regardless. I was proud of the treasures we had sorted out and set aside. I think I just wanted to find good homes for all of her stuff.
Last weekend the house was put on the market and it was decided that everything left in the house would be pitched. Either thrown out or given to the Good Will. When I found out I was really upset and I had that nasty in the pit of your stomach feeling. The other night when I got up at 3am to nurse the baby I never fell back asleep. I just lay in bed crying and thinking about all of my grandma’s stuff being thrown away. I realize this is ridiculous. Loosing sleep over stuff. I keep telling myself, “It’s just stuff.”
I love old things. I have always loved old things. Even when I was seven or eight years old all of the best stuff, many of my favourite possessions, came from yard sales or from my grandmother’s basement. To me each old item is unique and irreplaceable.
When I told my husband that they were going to throw out all of my grandmother’s stuff he immediately said, “Tell them we’ll take it all.” And put it where? We have a house FULL of stuff, I don’t need more stuff. What I need is…. good homes found for each possession. To know that there is value in these items. If my grandmother choose to hold on to something for 60 or 40 or 30 years, there is a reason. It’s not garbage. It’s not something to be thrown out.
And some of the stuff I did want, rather badly. I didn’t even ask. I figure someone else wants this stuff. If they don’t want it then it should be sold in the estate sale. I felt that everything that was left was valuable. Valuable stuff? It’s all just stuff.
I find myself wondering what will happen to my own possessions when I die. I tell myself it’s all just stuff, but I’m awfully sentimental over my stuff. The thought of someone pitching my belonging is intensely depressing. I feel this crazy compulsion to go around the house and mark everything with post it notes, so if something happened to me my family would know why this stuff is cool. That bowl was my great grandmothers, I’ve had that doll since I was three, those books are worth money, don’t toss them! If tomorrow “I should fall from grace with God where no doctor can relieve me”, all of my items would be left without a frame of reference. To me, precious possessions. To someone else, just stuff.
I guess part of what’s really bothering me is that with my grandmother gone, all of her belongings are taken out of context. I will never know why this wacky spoon set was wrapped up carefully in the bottom of her cedar chest. I can’t ask her where this pretty glass bowl came from, or find out why she held on to that knickknack for so long. With her gone, it really is all just stuff.