If you’re like me you have a lot of stuff. Some useful, some not so much. It will be a terrible day when I come to the point of downsizing. Even worse, if someone else needs to downsize for me.
At the moment, I can live just fine without random things like the dining room table or even my dishwasher. I think. But there are some things around my house that are so cherished I can’t imagine life without them. Take my laundry basket for instance; it’s one of the first things my husband and I bought together as newly-weds almost 47 years ago. Besides reminding me there’s laundry to be washed, it reminds me of being young, carefree and excited about a future in our first home together. Even daily chores were fine with me back then.
I also have an old handmade apron that my grandmother wore while working in her garden. In the pockets you will find a handkerchief edged with tiny embroidered flowers, a ball of string she used to tie bean vines to poles, and several dried okra pods full of seeds that rattle within. I estimate those seeds are at least thirty-two years old, if not more. I will never throw them away. It makes me sad to think that one day, someone will.
I’m not the only one who cherishes “things.”
Theresa Murphy now lives in New Jersey but has family ties here. She’s been a frequent visitor to the “Friendly City” and says she’s very sentimental. “I have treasures of memories in my home that make me smile with all the loving family I’ve been blessed with. God has been very good to me.”
Gina Boyer of Hubert has a slice of wood from the trunk of an old pecan tree. It sits on the mantle of her fireplace and frames a picture of her grandparents. Before the tree was destroyed by a hurricane several years ago, she’d spent many pleasant Sundays as a child, sitting in a swing beneath it with her grandfather. And sadly, later gathering there with family when her young cousin died of cancer and at the time of her grandfather’s passing … learning to sit there without him. “This is the item that brings back many memories for me,” Boyer said.
Ashley Archer, also of Hubert, told the story of her grandmother’s Bible. “She got it as a gift in 1962 and always told me the Bible would someday be mine. She recorded every marriage, birthday, or family death in this Bible. She kept it on her coffee table with a purple crocheted cross over it. I now keep it on the nightstand by my bed.”
Archer lost her grandmother in October 2018 at age 92. “Nothing in the world could replace her or this Bible. I plan to pass it down to my children when they are older.” Archer said.
Some might say that what we love to keep are really “just things.” I’m sure my harvest-gold laundry basket from the 1970s would simply be an ordinary household item to anyone but me, nothing special. The seeds in an apron pocket, a silly thing to others because they don’t know my Granny or that she gathered them from what would turn out to be her last garden. When I look at them, I see Granny wearing her apron. She’s standing in the garden and fanning her face with the frayed straw hat she wore.
Framed photos or family Bibles are rather common items in most homes, yet precious to those fortunate enough to have them as reminders of people they love.
I’ve been thinking about all the things I’ve gathered over time and often wonder if any of them will someday be important to others. I reached out to award-winning philosopher and best-selling author, Marietta McCarty to gain insight. I’d heard of her latest book, “Leaving 1203: Emptying a Home, Filling the Heart.” Her book is about going into her childhood home when her mother died and having to make decisions about what to keep. What she did with everything, and why, is a surprise waiting for readers in the last chapter.
I think her next words about going into her mother’s house explain what I’ve suspected all along …
“Each and every thing in the house now mattered – it had been part of the whole, a piece of the tapestry that took almost 60 years to weave. Little things at 1203 possessed immeasurable value … their “prices” couldn’t be named. … Yes, things mattered but only because they served as tokens for all the lives that rubbed up against each other for over 56 years”
I don’t believe that our many possessions are mostly “just things”. My own philosophy is that if we own things that remind us of the love we feel for others, we should continue to hold them dear as long as we can. When we leave this world, we’ll leave with a full heart and perhaps leave something behind to help fill the hearts of others.
McCarty was supposed to visit Morehead City for a seminar in April but was canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic.
If you’d like more insight on the “things” we possess, consider ordering the book “Leaving 1203.”
Author Carol Hartsoe writes from her home in Bear Creek.