Applesauce, heirloom guilt and clutter / by Suzanne


When we receive inheritance and heirloom gifts we're expected to accept and appreciate them.  Refusing them would seem like betrayal.

Sometimes we love such things and they hold deep meaning for us. Sometimes they fit into our life and support us. Sometimes they're things we don't like or want or need but we accept them anyway and they become clutter.

It's in this latter case many of us struggle.

Even when we have more than we need or can take care of we sometimes find ourselves accepting bequeathed gifts and, once in our possession, we feel we can't let go of them. As a result we end up living amongst things we don't like, don't have proper room for and that don't support the lives we're living today. 

Maybe we don't want to appear to be disrespectful or uncaring if we reject these things.

Maybe we fear if we let these things go our memories 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. Before bed I would even attempt to cover it with towels to muffle the sound. Still, it would wake me every night.

Imagine my surprise when I discovered that, among all Dad's personal possessions, he was leaving the clock to me! My sister and I actually had a good laugh about it. It seemed so comical. 

I'm almost nervous to tell you I didn't take the clock. I don't even feel bad about it.

I did what a space clearing expert said to do and 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 triggers bad memories (horrible sleep deprivation) and I honestly felt it deserved to be with someone who would really appreciate it. Plus I felt pretty confident 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 experienced a feeling of great 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 in his new role and to accept what was happening to her, Dad had recently really stepped up to the plate.

I decided I could be helpful by making applesauce from a huge bunch of apples threatening to go bad. Mom wasn't talking much at this stage. She watched me peeling apples for a while and then told me what a patient person I was. 

Yesterday, years later, as I peeled apples in my own kitchen I couldn't have felt more close to them than if I had a room full of heirlooms.