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Tuesday, January 03, 2006


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What a thought-provoking post; and what a fascinating, overwhelming and poignant process for you.

On a practical (and unsentimental) level, I already feel scared about clearing out the homes of my parents and (particularly) my mother-in-law, who has a gigantic house filled with all sorts of things. I can imagine it taking weeks, even with family members working together. It's a truly daunting prospect.

I was really struck by the notion of throwing out photo albums. Living in a tiny home has forced me to become a ruthless culler of my own possessions, and I've been surprised at the things that I've managed to let go and hardly missed afterwards (for instance, we donated about 2/3 of our books to Lifeline when we bought our townhouse). But reading your post makes me realise that I kind of think of photo albums as sacred. It's sobering to reflect on how fleeting their significance really is.

I can imagine that each object is kind of crying out for attachment to you. Each is a part of your father's life, a connection to him, though he's gone; a clue to the past. Respect for that makes it hard to just chuck things out without a parting glance. I'm dreading have to do that.

My parents are having a similar experience going everything before selling their home before they separate. Some of my things are still at home (left with intentions of bringing them back to Australia at some point) but I haven't missed much and I have said that most probably don't need to be kept at this stage. When I am faced with the type of job you are doing, I think it will be much easier since they are doing this now. I guess the prospect of moving to much smaller quarters will do that though.

Similarly again, as we are trying to clear our house so we can prepare it to sell, I am finding I will have to put a certain amount of sentimentality aside. After all, most of it gets seen once every five or ten years. I have to also admit to being a bit of a hoarder too, so more of a problem. As for the kids' belongings, it's overwhelming and I find I am having to go behind their backs to get rid of some things. Which makes me feel guilty as I never wanted to do that... but especially with N, it's just impossible to take some things away with their knowledge.

Your post really is thought-provoking, as Liz mentioned, and touches on aspects of the death of a loved one that aren't usually discussed.

When I cleared out my grandfather's house, it had to be done in a hurry too.

How I now regret the things I so ruthlessly threw out - photos, medals and awards and certificates, letters and so. Especially now when my children ask about their grandparents.

I think I prefer the old idea when the family home and contents was often passed down the generations and many memories were kept intact.

We live in a throwaway society - family, friends and memories.


The above was not meant to be a criticism of you. My apologies if it came out that way.

What I wrote was a reaction to the guilt I feel, and have carried for a number of years, over what I did with the remnants of my grandfather's life.

Regrets? I have many ....

Thanks for the quote, "meaning doesn't reside in objects." I really like that. I'm guilty of having way too much stuff around my home, hoarding all sorts of old things of questionable value. I think telling myself "meaning doesn't reside in objects" will indeed help me to throw things away.

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