Applesauce, 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 many of us struggle with what to do.
Even today, when we often have more than we need or can take care of we accept these gifts because refusing bequeathed gifts can feel like betrayal. And once in our possession we feel we couldn't possibly get rid of them (let alone refuse them in the first place) . And so we end up living amongst inherited things that doesn't support our lives, and amongst stuff we don't like or don't have room for.
Maybe we fear people will think us disrespectful or uncaring if we reject these things.
Maybe we fear if we let these things go our memories will go, too.
For years, my parents had a grandfather clock that hung on the wall. It would ring every 15 minutes and every hour it would ding dong the appropriate number of times.
While some 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 and robbing me of 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 even 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. Thanks Dad.) 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), it deserved to be with someone who would really love it. Plus 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 her, 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, Mom, who wasn't talking much at that stage, watched me and she 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.
The memories are inside, all along.