By Sue Schools
I’m a genetic collector, daughter of a notorious hoarder and granddaughter of a survivor of the Great Depression who believed in her later years that two of everything still wasn’t enough. When Grannie went to the Big Warehouse in the Sky, my mother packed her sedan with boxes of treasures that she could tote home without hiring a van. When it was time for Grannie’s spinster sister to meet The Master Collector, my widowed mother again inherited all of those heirlooms.
In Mother’s own last months, she looked around lovingly at her rooms where only a path could wend its way through the piles and said “Someday, this will all be yours, Sue.” I didn’t know if it was a benediction or a curse.
My nieces and nephews show no interest in family history, even if I hold grainy pictures of settlers, solemn in their determination to endure neighbors and weather, friendly or foul. In my heart I hold stories passed down through generations with no one to tell. Boisterous reunions of large clans of the grateful with mounds of buttered potatoes, crispy fried chicken, shelled peas and fresh pies cooling in the kitchen. I still have the family serving platter.
There’s an opaque glass bowl with a cruet pair and fortunately on the bottom is a tape with my grandmother’s handwriting: “This salad set was given to me by my grandfather on his deathbed.” It was a treasure imported from Europe in early 1800’s, passed down through the generations, and now it’s mine.
Costume jewelry worn by my modest ancestors with rhinestones that sparkled like the queen’s jewels are creations more feminine than current clunky fashions. They are remnants of a time when occasions were special and men and women both donned their Sunday Best.
Mother was given a bible on her 10th birthday and it was left to me with a couple of her original school primers. A hardbound copy of “The Illustrated Encyclopedia of SEX” by Drs. Willy, Vander and Fisher was published in 1950 and I often wonder if she read it or it collected dust.
Through many decades of living, I also accumulated more stuff than any one person could ever need or use. Having gone through weight changes, I kept various sizes and styles of clothing, thinking how cute I could again be … if only …. Many hobbies, charities and activities have attracted my energies, but my poor house was always left with the detritus when my attentions jumped to another adventure. When the remaining ladies of the family had departed to the Great Costco of All Times, I was left with their memorabilia plus my own collections.
And then God invented the storage warehouse … a blessing and a bane to mankind! Monthly fees have ensured that my junk is out of sight and out of mind. It will take months to properly dispose of my treasures, trinkets and trash, not to mention the emotional frustrations. What to do ??
Some things are aesthetically joyful to behold; some things represent cherished memories, while others are memories best forgotten, left behind. And each article represents choices, whether to keep, sell or toss. What I must decide now is to keep only items that are precious to me and especially only keepsakes that can be seen. Objects left in drawers, hidden on shelves or, heaven forbid, boxed in a storage unit, need not take up my space.
If there is such a thing as reincarnation and we are allowed to choose our future afflictions, I hope to return as a minimalist with OCD tendencies!