A Community Newspaper for the way we live

Patty Maguire

You might be astonished to learn that one out of every 10 households in America rents a storage unit to hold all of the STUFF that will not fit in their homes/garages. This statistic has me wondering why? If you know that you can’t take it with you when you die, then why would anyone feel the need to hang onto so much stuff? It boggles the mind!

I have a sister who has always been very sentimental about “things.” She has three children and three grandchildren and has proudly saved almost every drawing, trophy, report card, baseball, video, and doodle that they ever brought home. Although this is very sweet of her, the result of years of collecting was overwhelming!
Once her children grew up and moved out on their own she downsized from a four bedroom house into a two bedroom apartment. At that point she opted to rent a storage unit, which in four years she visited only twice, yet she faithfully paid $66 per month for the entire four years.
Recently, due to an illness that caused my sister to be hospitalized for over a month, she needed to move out of her apartment AND storage unit. I offered to put some of her things in the shed attached to my 400 square foot tiny home, but it too is tiny, and I already had some of my things taking up space (Christmas decorations, etc.) Because of this, I had to make the tough decision on what belongings to keep/not keep.

I made multiple trips to the apartment dumpster and to Goodwill, and was even forced to ask her neighbors if they wanted/needed anything. After two days of sorting, I filled the back of my car and the bed of a friend’s truck with the last of my sister’s belongings. My heart truly did ache for her. However, my brain knew that this was a necessity. We were in a crisis situation – and I simply had no choice.

When my sister was released from the hospital she was upset by all of the things I was forced to get rid of. I honestly did my best to identify items that I felt were essential, but I know that it hurt her to see things go. I reminded her that the memories associated with each item were permanently etched in her mind, so she didn’t need to hang onto the physical item. Although she understood, this unfortunately didn’t provide much comfort to my sister.

I am 57 years old, and aware of my mortality. Thankfully, I’ve never felt the need to collect a lot of stuff. I do have one small box for each of my two children that contain sentimental items that I think they may want eventually. I cannot even fathom the idea that some day my children might be forced to sort through all of my junk when they are supposed to be mourning the loss of their “dear sweet mother.” I imagine that this would cause them to resent me, and THAT would literally KILL me! (Wait, I’m already dead, aren’t I?!)

I’ve concluded that keeping things simple is the ultimate gift I give to myself – – and to my children. I hope this inspires you to re-evaluate what is REALLY important in your life and enables you to purge all of the stuff that weighs you down and complicates your life.

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