Jettisoning the flotsam


Mimi's chairOver the years, I have accumulated a lot of treasures. Some might call it junk.

Years ago, my visiting parents noted that my living area could use additional light and more places to sit. When they downsized, I inherited a box of lamps and enough chairs to start my own prayer circle.

Having a shortage of storage space doesn’t help matters. Closets are crammed. School supplies share shelves with linens, and the vacuum cleaner snuggles between winter coats. Boxed business records skulk behind a bedroom door. Suitcases stand hopefully next to the closet, and college footlockers stand in for cedar chests at the foot of beds.

Each spring, I vow to clean out the old, the worn, the unused. I turn a steely gaze and firm resolve to pitching or donating the accumulated flotsam from the wreck that is my home. There’s the two-foot high pine bench that would look more at home in a barn than against my wall. But I got it from the house sale after my neighbor died. Each time I navigate around it, I think of her. There’s the stained, chipped (and glued) cup in my bathroom that should have been tossed long ago. But it brings reminiscences of the trip my mother and I took to England. There are two uncomfortable antique chairs of which visitors steer clear. But each of my grandmothers made one of the needlepoint seats. Every Christmas, my daughter urges me to trash the wild-haired Styrofoam angel, green pine cone trees and finger-woven loop of yarn that would be better placed in the garbage than on the tree. But memories of a little boy and even younger girl proudly opening their hands with their holiday offerings still my hand.

And so it goes.

Whereas I can turn tattered towels into rags and have no trouble recycling magazines I edited long ago, I can’t let go of the stuff of memories. I will leave this “junk,” but not the associations, to my daughter who might find it easier to rid herself of it. But for now, I’ll keep the clutter.

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