*** Time for this post? Reading…7 minutes. Thinking about why you keep what you do…optional.
I know people who feel they must purge their living and storage spaces before they die. Their intention is to make it easier for their family to wrap up their affairs. What a shame!
True, it might help the family dispatch the estate efficiently. But what will they miss out on?
My take on that…
I think there’s something to be gained when others go through what we leave behind. They may learn things about us that they didn’t know, remember long-forgotten events, and gain perspective on who we were.
The way I see it, this is part of our legacy—and we are shortchanging our survivors if we leave a stripped-down version of our life.
To be clear, I’m not advocating for leaving an unholy mess. Like Margareta Magnusson, I think I should take responsibility for what I keep. And part of what I want to keep is those things that illustrate my history. For example…
Footwear too cool to dispose of…
When my kids clean out my place, they’ll find a couple boxes of shoes that have never been on my feet. They’re from my days as a wardrobe designer for community theatre productions.
Shoes were a challenge on a low budget, especially for period shows. I did a lot fo sourcing in thrift stores. When I saw something unique, that I’d be unlikely to find again when it was needed, I made the purchase on speculation. Most of them cost $1, or half that on a sale day.
What my family will find in the boxes…
For those who love shoes like I do, here’s a closeup look…
These women’s shoes remind me of what grownups wore when I was a child.The black rain boots and oxfords were used in two shows. Probably no one noticed but me, because they were subtle additions to the costumes. But to me, they were like icing on a cake—the finishing touch that makes it special.
The two shoes in the next photo make my heart sing, and I was very happy to find they were useful more than once.
The red sling-backs are my absolute favourite. I think it’s because the six-year-old that still lives in me thought they were soooooo elegant when she saw them in magazine pictures. Of course, no one she knew ever wore anything that stylish!
Anyway, I keep these out of the box, on display so she can enjoy them daily. (If I had room, I’d keep all the shoes on display. But I don’t, so that’s why my kids will find the boxes. Now that I think of it, I’m going to put a copy of this post in the box, so they’ll know why I kept such things.)
The men’s shoes also have stories. Like the red shoes, brown leather slippers were never worn by people I knew, automatically making them intriguingly exotic in my mind.
The felt boots behind them, just like those my Grandpa wore, were perfect in “Of Mice and Men.”
I created the spectator shoes for “Guys and Dolls” by painting light shoe dye on the main part of basic black brogues. A small touch, but soul-satisfying!
These two pairs of oxfords are custom-made shoes that would never fit anyone but the intended wearer. The pair on the left is the narrowest pair of men’s shoes I have ever seen! It’s hard to convey in a photo. The shoe is size 11, and only 3 inches (7.6 cm) wide. That’s 25% narrower than the average width for a size 11 shoe.
The pair on the right is HUGE, which is why I set them on a ruler. To the toe cap, minus the protruding sole, it is 13 1/2 inches (34.3 cm) long. North American shoe size charts go up to size 17, which is 13″ (33 cm) long. At 1/2 inch (1.3 cm) longer than that, this pair of shoes is size 18.
Other things they’ll find in my storage room…
- Archive of my work ~ Printed materials I produced over the years, including books, pamphlets, food photos, and project proposals. They saw bits and pieces of these things as they were growing up, but this gives them a big picture of the body of my work.
- Memorabilia of my kids ~ Artwork, cards they gave me, notes sent when they were away, and miscellaneous bits. I think that discovering these will connect them with their younger selves and reinforce how special they are to me.
- Empty boxes, because you never know when you’ll need them. And besides, they’ll be useful when they pack up my things to move them on.
- Milk jugs filled with water, which could be essential in an emergency. A bit of a nuisance for them to dispose of, but water can easily be poured out and the empty jugs can go into my recycling.
- Some junk, but not too much.
What are you storing?
Things with stories? Things you think your family might want? Stuff-and-junk? What will your family learn about you as they go through it? What will they learn about themselves? Please share…
Those red slingbacks caught my eye immediately. Do they fit you?
I cleaned out my mom’s house, with help from my bro and sister-in-law. It was tough deciding what to throw out, give away, keep… But the prolonged process brought on warm memories, tears and good stories….all part of grieving.
Agreed, the memories and stories have an important role to play, and our belongings are a good catalyst. Thanks for sharing your experience. Alas, the red shoes would have fit me at twenty but not now. So I have to enjoy them vicariously when I remember how perfect they were in “It’s a Wonderful Life.”