Applesauce, heirloom guilt and clutter


applesauce, heirloom guilt and clutter


applesauce, heirloom guilt and clutter


applesauce, heirloom guilt and clutter


applesauce, heirloom guilt and clutter


applesauce, heirloom guilt and clutter


applesauce, heirloom guilt and clutter


What’s applesauce got to do with heirloom guilt and clutter?

Inheritance and heirloom gifts are given to us and we’re expected to accept and appreciate them. Sometimes we love them and they fit into our life and support us. Sometimes they’re things we don’t like, want or need but we accept them anyway, and they become clutter. It’s in this latter case that many of us struggle with what to do.

Even today, when many of us have more than we need, more than we can sometimes take care of, and yet refusing family heirlooms or a bequeathed gifts can feel like a betrayal. We feel we couldn’t possibly get rid of them (let alone refuse them in the first place) for fear people will think us disrespectful or uncaring. So we end up living amongst inherited furniture or other things we don’t like or don’t have room for.

Maybe, too, we fear if we let these things go our memories will go.

My parents had a grandfather clock that hung on the wall. It would ring every 15 minutes, and every hour it would ding and dong the appropriate number of times.

While some people might really appreciate such a clock my memories of it aren’t great.

Whenever I visited Mom and Dad when the kids were small I was usually very sleep-deprived, and that darn clock was always waking me up, robbing me of precious much-needed rest. I would even attempt to cover it with towels to muffle the sound before bed at night. Still, it would wake me.

Imagine my surprise when I discovered that, among all Dad’s personal possessions, he was leaving the clock to, you guessed it, me!

I’m almost nervous to tell you I didn’t take the clock and I don’t feel bad about it. I did what one of the world’s leading authorities on space clearing, Karen Kingston, advises: I accepted the love given with the gift (he thought it would look nice in our dining room, which is very sweet) but I let it go.

I chose not to accept it even though I loved him; I already have enough clocks, it triggered bad memories (horrible sleep deprivation) and I knew I didn’t need it to remember him.

Which brings me to applesauce.

On one of my final visits to Mom and Dad’s before Mom died I felt such relief to witness how much love there was in their home despite the difficult situation. Mom had Alzheimer’s and was living at home with Dad as her caregiver. Although he initially struggled to accept what was happening to Mom, Dad had really stepped up to the plate.

I decided I could be helpful by making applesauce from a huge bunch of apples that were threatening to go bad. While I sat peeling them, my mother, who wasn’t talking much at that stage, watched me and told me what a patient person I was.

I couldn’t have felt more close to them while I peeled apples yesterday than if I had a room full of heirlooms. No need to have stuff to help us remember loved ones.

The memories are inside us all along.


applesauce, heirloom guilt and clutter


5 responses to “Applesauce, heirloom guilt and clutter

  1. This is so beautifully written, poignant, and so very true! My parents had a different approach, whereby, with the exception of some fancy china and Mom’s jewelry which were explicitly earmarked for my sister, they advised us to share and keep whatever we wanted and give away whatever was left. The wall-mounted grandfather clock didn’t hold bad memories for me; thus, I chose to keep it and it is now in my kitchen. But for me, instead of applesauce, I think of Mom every time I make myself a grilled cheese sandwich. Well, in truth, I think of Mom or Dad each time I find myself doing something they would do or saying something they would say, and that confirms to me not only that I’m definitely their son, but also that, whenever that happens, it’s a sign they remain with me and probably always will.


      thanks maurice. i really really didn’t like that clock. so glad you like yours! I have my mother’s china and I love it. i use it all the time. nice to hear from you. xo

  2. Christy Hughes-Mercado

    I found what you wrote very moving, especially the part about your mom saying you were so patient. I am glad that you are not guilt ridden about the clock. People create the most meaningful memories not material things. This is something you already know and know well. I have learned from you today Suzanne. Thank you. xo


      thanks christy. the funny thing is, I hadn’t thought of that moment with mom until i was peeling apples the other day and then it all came flooding back. i was trying to write a post about heirloom guilt and was having writers block and so took a break to make applesauce. and then the memory hit me, and i was able to finish writing the piece. thanks for reading. xo

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