The time has come and we’re ready. Until now I could never have imagined being willing and able to address this issue. I’m not sure exactly what changed, but the challenge awaits us and the determination has arrived.
We’re going to de-clutter our home, release and remove the things that choke the 13 bookcases and cram our closets. Oscar and I have agreed to do this, and together we’ll bid farewell to many treasured items and memories that have gathered dust in our minds and on our shelves for decades.
Books on hundreds of intriguing topics will have to find new homes. Our several hundred T-shirts from half a century of travel through life will be revisited, re-evaluated and many will be removed to make room for whatever is coming next.
Yes, the past is precious to us, but the future beckons and we want to make room. Items that interest our children and grandchildren will be dispersed and delivered, like an extra set of flatware that hasn’t been used for more than 15 years and a piano keyboard that lost its allure and has been stored in an unused bathtub for lack of closet space. And let us not forget the five different sets of dishes that were inherited from both of our parents.
Clothing that either no longer fits us or we’ve chosen not to wear for years will be donated to charity. I still have the dresses I wore to each of our children’s weddings. They haven’t been worn since. Just last year after half a century in my closet, I gave my wedding dress to the Nearly New Shop. It never fit anyone in the family, and I thought it was lonely crammed into the back of the closet. Hopefully it will continue its life-giving pleasure and new memories in another home.
But the most daunting task will be to go through the papers and records that have grown roots in our office, file cabinets and cubbyholes. Shredding them will be strangely satisfying I think. They don’t need us anymore and we don’t need them. What we need is space, and they’re taking up too much of it.
And what has amazed me is that we’re not alone in this endeavor. Just today I spoke with two of my closest friends back in Maryland and was shocked to discover they had individually come to the same conclusion as Oscar and I and were in the midst of beginning the same kind of clean-up.
“Is it our age or just the recognition and acceptance of reality,” I wondered.
We’re all in our 70s, and the job is a physical challenge as well as a mental one. It’s not going to get any easier.
But it doesn’t really matter why we three couples have chosen to do this. What has motivated each of us, I think, is the desire to put an end to procrastination and to live in the moment. I recently read a quotation that explains Eleanor Roosevelt’s philosophy, and I think it fits. “Yesterday is history. Tomorrow is mystery. Today is a gift.”
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.”