I decided to let it go. It was my Mom’s engagement ring and when she died 20 years ago it became mine – a small, blue topaz bow tie set in 18-carat gold. I’ve always loved it but never worn it because my fingers are filled with my own wedding and engagement rings. And so it lay reverently alone in a safe deposit box, warmly reminding me of Mom every time I look at it.
One day recently my daughter Amy and I were talking about the things we save and I showed her the ring. Her face lit up as she began to talk of her good memories of my mother and how she misses her. On an impulse, I offered her the ring.
I was unprepared for the emotions that emerged from both of us. Amy was thrilled and her eyes filled with tears of gratitude for the gift of her grandmother’s keepsake. And I felt a rush of both sadness and joy as I thought of Mom’s passing and of my passing on this memory of her to her granddaughter. Thus began an interesting first step on an unexpected journey.
As seniors, I’m guessing that most of our lives and homes are filled with plethora things we’ve accumulated, inherited, bought, saved, stored or stashed in the attic and garage. And with advancing years and a few health scares, my husband, Oscar, and I have begun talking about diminishing our stash.
Looking around our overstuffed house, garage and attic, we are beginning to think differently about letting go of unused belongings. Instead of getting rid of some things we cherish and saved, we’ve begun to think in a more positive vein. We’ll share with our children and grandchildren now, if they want what we have, while we’re alive and can watch them enjoy it.
And so we called our son in Nashville and asked if he thought his 3-year-old daughter Ava might like the electronic keyboard we haven’t touched in a decade. We could hear the smile in his voice when he said he thought she might. We’ll be visiting him in the fall and delivering it.
Next on my gift list is a beautiful set of rainbow crystal goblets we got at our wedding and have never used because Oscar’s mother gave us her crystal and we love the memories that came with it. For more than 50 years those wedding goblets have taken up a full cabinet in our kitchen. Time to pass it on, I thought. Yes, I know, we could have a garage sale and get rid of it – and I’m sure that’s in our future for some of the stuff – but not this.
We have bookshelves of children’s books our kids grew up with and loved, and it’s begun to be fun returning them to our children for their own children to enjoy. What Oscar and I have learned from these new exercises is that when you love something and offer to share it with family, it’s not letting it go, it’s keeping it going.
Freelance writer Judy Kramer can be reached by email at [email protected] She is author of the book “Changing Places: A Journey with My Parents into Their Old Age.”