I prefer to remember my friend by her peacefully beautiful garden
But I had no idea I’d react this way….
Last week I helped a very good friend clean out the home of another very dear friend, and this is the end to the story!
My friend Barbara passed last September, she had been very ill, and unable to walk, dementia had set in and the worst part was that she realized she wasn’t thinking clearly. It was very sad, however we all realized her quality of life was not as it should have been, or as she wanted, so when she unexpectedly passed, it really was a blessing. Barbara had been a hiker, a writer, a world traveler, a teacher, and an artist among many other things. We were all devastated, but we knew it was best!
After about six months her home was put up for sale, her car was sold, and after a couple of weeks the house was sold as well. The new owners we excited to be starting the next chapter of their lives in a beautiful home. What was supposed to be a 45 day escrow, turned into a very short escrow with a last minute notice to move out, and a short week to pack all of the remains in the home, and leave.
Some times there are blessings in what one would think was a desaster.
The blessing came by way of not having time to think of all the beloved treasures remaining, or how Barbara traveled all over the world to collect these treasures, or even who could possably clear out a 3000 sq. ft. home in a week, not to mention the garage! But it was done and over with a few hours prior to the deadline, sadness left behind along with the gardens, the pond full of Koi, and a tree house that was never quite used enough.
It took many people, some literary working day and night, some as much as their bodies could handle to empty drawers, cupboards, all nooks, and all the crannies being emptied out. Many of us have boxes and boxes of things yet to be distributed to places like the Women’s Resource Center, or helping Young Artists Thrive. A few things were saved by each of us in Barbara’s memory, however only a small amount of treasures can find their place amongst us.
Barbara spent many years teaching children, she would be happy to know how much of her things will be going to help thriving student artists locally. Or, things that will help the homeless families get back to a much needed normal way of life.
Yes, I did keep a few things, maybe more than I needed, but not more than helped me feel closer to my friend. What it did for me in the process was to help me realize how we all have way too much “stuff!” I know for me after going through her studio, and kitchen, and finding so many multiples of the same thing, unopened, or unused, it helped me realize how privileged I am, and how much less I can do without. We have a little home, under 1000 sq ft, and yet every space is filled with things we no longer use, or are from our younger years and hold memories. Our kids will one day go through our home, just like we just went through Barbara’s home. I don’t want that to happen, and yet it probably will to a certain extent. That home was 3000 sq. ft., and ours is 923, and like Barbara, we have every space stuffed with treasures. I no longer can stand that, and in all fairness someone else might need it more than we do. All the clothes we save for a special occasion, or that have memories; all old photos that will fade and get tossed in the end; the art supplies that will be better served with struggling young artists that have very little. Most of it belongs with them, and it makes me feel good about donating it to them.
Barbara was in her eighties when she passed, and never expected to go before her mother did, who was well into her nineties. We can’t rely on those things, and not having anyone to leave all this to except a great-niece that lived in Wisconsin, that was a heavy load for anyone.
Yesterday, Friday the 15th was the deadline for the home to be emptied, and it was! The garage an entirely different story. It made me sick to go out there and even think of clearing out the garage. It was overwhelming for all of us. I helped a little, but whether it was exhaustion, or emotions, I hit the wall!
This is really a wake up call to myself and all of us working together in the past week, to tackle this problem way before it gets this far. In the garage there were old empty boxes lining the walls, old printers,, computers, or appliances that no longer worked on shelves. You would never have called my friend a hoarder, yet that is exactly what I would now call her. My home is neat and clean to look at also, but I think we hord, we don’t even realize it in that way, and I don’t like that…..not one little bit!
I’m going to take one room at a time, maybe a closet at a time, but I need less not more. Clutter makes us all feel confined and stressed and we don’t need that in our lives. I want to be a minimalist not a hoarder. I’m not going to wear that tight tee-shirt, short mini skirt, or those high heals ever again, and someone else might. I have many good clothes that I can’t wear, or never get that dressed up to wear…Off they go!
I want to live a peaceful, stress-free life and I think this is a good way to start the process. How do you feel about this…… are you saving things in boxes you don’t even remember, or clothes in a clothes bag or on a hanger you will never wear? I know I have expensive clothes that I can’t for various reasons even try wearing, or treasures I have already packed away for lack of room. (Think of all the “retail therapy you are missing out on by not having space to put it!)
I just want to keep my Teddy Bear, who was my very first and best friend, can I keep him please!
Place your hands in the soil to feel grounded. Wade in water to feel emotionally healed. Fill your lungs with fresh air to feel mentally clear. Raise your face to the heat of the sun and connect to that power to feel your own immense power.”