I began writing this before I found out that much of the material “stuff” of my family history was slated for destruction but that there was a small window when I could recover items that held meaning and represented family history and culture for me. I will write much more about this discovery, recovery, and the travels necessary to this family information journey.
I now have much more to organize, sort and distribute.
Written October 20th: For the next many months I will be sorting, pitching, giving away, and defining essence through paring down and constructing the physical reality I want to live in for the next 30 years. Why 30? I figure that given reasonable luck, I could live to be 90 plus. My mom lived to be be 92. So that seems like a reasonable goal for me. Everything could end sooner, I am not deluding myself, but I will plan for happiness. health, and a long life.
I have realized in the last few weeks that it is time to go through everything in my office, and the entire house in fact. In the last couple of years I have managed to straighten some of the mess accumulated in my house from years of collecting, putting aside, distraction, less than perfect health, and far less than perfect coping skills.
The last 10 years have passed more quickly than I imagined possible. I have learned more than I I think I ever wanted to know. The joy and pain have been more intense than I imagined possible.
I am at a place in life I could not imagine when I was young.
Stuff and heirlooms have separated themselves from each other without my having to do much. Heirlooms have stories that beg to be told. Stuff may say, “Hey, remembert when…?” but stuff does not beg.
What I have discovered being parentless and a sole surviving sibling is that life seems different when you are the only one who remembers family events and stories. I was not close to any cousins, though I had many.
Though 60 years have only recently brushed by me, nudging me into a new decade, I know things that many friends who are my age or younger may never know or won’t know until they are in their 80s or 90s. I know what it is like to have outlived all those family members of my generation or those genetically related to me from the generation above me.
Because of this unusual family positioning, and because family machinations that evolved both due to people who were kind to a fault, victims of family dysfunction, and others who developed dementia mishandled estate planning, estate management, and execution of the estate — I have learned far too much about sour grapes, regrets, and hurt feelings.
I sincerely do not want to make the same mistakes that I have seen others make when it comes to preparing to hand off to the next generation.
Some of the things I will share as I write about organizing for a future I will not see is pertinent for most other people who are in the last half or third of their lives. These topics include:
- Documenting possessions
- Describing items lost over the years
- Documenting collections
- Recording stories linked to items before you let them go
- Distributing possessions
Items will distribute themselves through time and space, in sometimes seemingly random patterns, whether we want them to or not. Tell the . stories of these, behind these, items anyway.