Sunday, September 23, 2018

Empty Nester Down-Sizing Thirty-Two Years of Memories

When getting rid of memories becomes one of the hardest things to do...but downsizing is also a necessity, and then there is no going back!

Now that my three children have grown and flown the coop—sadly, they no longer fill the hours of my immediate world—I need to accept my new life without them and, even if reluctantly, move forward. As my children will undoubtedly be setting new roots elsewhere and begin collecting memories of their own, I realize that my husband and I need to make some important changes within our home, too.

Though I have always enjoyed living in a big house with lots of spacious rooms, realistically, with them gone, we no longer need a large living space, nor do we need to keep every little thing we’ve accumulated during the last thirty-two years of Nesting. The accumulations have been considerable, even overwhelming, to say the least. It is now time to down-size, and that means parting with many of our old and no longer relevant memories.

But try to imagine the madness of sorting through thirty-two years’ worth; of what must go and what might be kept. Because, after all, we are down-sizing from a large three bedroom/three bathroom home (roughly 3200 square-feet of living) into a small one bedroom/one bathroom dwelling (not quite 800 square-feet).

It begins with firmly saying:

..This...must go!

But every so often I found myself saying:

Now that...that I just might keep!

However I quickly realized that I cannot and must not save them all. Go they must!

The moment arrived; the dumpster sat outside, enormous and ominous, hungry to be filled, ready and waiting to take all my memories away. And all I could feel was my head spinning, my heart thumping against my chest, and hot, wet tears rolled down my face. Choices needed to be made; but how in the world could I begin to part with what held the many diverse moments of our lives?

Three gumball machines—one red, one, blue, one yellow—two still held colorful candy, though all of the stands were rusting and wobbly, and totally un-fixable. And one already had a severe crack in the glass.

Still, I wondered: But could they be saved? The whole time I battled within.

A box, crushed by weight from other untouched boxes, filled with our little girl’s Bob Mackie collectible Barbie dolls, once beautiful and oh-so colorful, now looked faded and dirty, and certainly ready for the trash.

Once again, temptation to keep them pulled at my heart strings.

But, no, they, too, ultimately unsalvageable, had to go! I finally determined, but not before a self imposed argument followed by another flood of tears.

And then there was an old cardboard box, obviously showing its age, that stored a porcelain tea set, one my father, now a few years passed, had given me when I was a teenager. It held cups and saucers, still perfectly wrapped in fading Sunday comic paper. I’d been keeping this set all these years to give to my oldest daughter. So naturally I decided to keep it. Someday I plan to gift her with it, once I am ready to relinquish ownership, that is.

Fivel! I’d found my son’s old plush toy, a Christmas gift—we’d just seen “An American Tail”—still in great condition. Now this I kept; that I would not throw away. It will be kept along with a teddy bear of mine, one I hold dear, a Gund, a Christmas present from my husband, one he’d brought back for me while on a trip back East, New York (over thirty-two years ago). We’d just recently been engaged when he gave it to me. No matter how old and ugly, how could I part with it?

On and on we sorted through our collected memories, picking and choosing and weighing their significance until we lightened our load by filling, first, a 15-yard dumpster and then a 10-yard dumpster. Once we got started there was no going back. I allowed my heart to be hardened in order to do the once unthinkable!

In the end, well, I have no regrets. If we didn’t “clean house” now, then our children would have been left to do what we should have done in the first place.

Virginia Kahler-Anderson

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HomeRearedChef is a writer for BrooWaha. For more information, visit the writer's website.
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7 comments on Empty Nester Down-Sizing Thirty-Two Years of Memories

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By riginal on July 24, 2014 at 04:00 am

Jeeze Virginia will you stop reading my mind girl! They reckon that moving house and or downsizing is one of THE most traumatic experiences in life.I straightened some people out financially then had to walk away. Shifted twice in a couple of months. Went from a $60,000 garage $390,000 house all up,which was set up for my dream to record to a nightmare of moving down to a tin shed lean to constructed in part of asbestos (the killing type) to wall- to- wall mice that i invited round to partake of a 3 course green pellet meal. The house itelf is starting to look okay.The mice are clapping.I have stuff here enough to build a house,rebuild a car, refurbish furniture wise America and Canada and it's very easy to tear up over photos. I just find it hard to part. With that part of my life. But i will rise like the Emperor of Rome...bout 2 ish in the afternoon. If you find a couple of old girlfriends, preferably young, in amongst one of your old wild party cupboards, who haven't gone home yet (you know, the type that just want to dance all night) please wrap them up in boxes with air holes to enable their drinks to breathe send them on to me. I'll swap you an engine lifter and a blow up Brad Pitt doll Angelina got Jolly with. and could i borrow your hubby for four score and ten years to put my stuff together computer wise. Isn't it bloody awful and heart wrenching to get rid of things you hold dear,that other people would just chuck,but sentimentality hasn't a price and wherever your heart beats anew therin lies a new Dawn which leads me to this question, have you got any old Dawns in a cupboard? Forgot, you are basking in a new one and isn't that what life's about? Yours sincerely, desperate and tasteless. Nice post my friend. No one can steal the essence of you two,you are the same persons even if you lived in a 60 room mansion with 10 bathrooms. You may just smell a little better but they say the aroma of a man unwashed can drive a woman crazy? If you find a cabbage patch doll that is not in a vegetative state south of the border mail her out. All the best and i know how you feel as would anyone whose life is full of memories that sometimes are hard to let go of. But we do. Almost. CHEERS:>)

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By Barbara MacDonald on July 24, 2014 at 12:02 pm

Dear sweet Virginia, I so feels at times like we are throwing pieces of our hearts away....I would of wished to be able to keep every little cherished gift made by my, so many over the years...but in reality, it just was not possible with downsizing over many years. I am once again working on cleaning out my storage room....there are things I will never part with, but I am sure there are also others in there which I can pass on to someone who may need them...well written dear lady...hugs

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By riginal on July 24, 2014 at 12:10 pm

mucked your score up V, should read I.

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By HomeRearedChef on July 24, 2014 at 12:29 pm

Wow! Dear Riginal, amigo, your comment was so excellecntly written that it should have been a post. :)

There were many things I had to give away, (and at the last minute, as we were running out of time, threw into the dumpster!), that if I take the time to think about it now I cringe and could easily cry. Sigh. But that is that and it it done!

OH, and should I come across a patch doll in good shape, single and with lots of energy still left, I will make sure to ship her your away. Anything for mi Amigo!!


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By HomeRearedChef on July 24, 2014 at 12:33 pm

My collection of memories, amiga Barbara, began the day I got married. And when we bought our first (and only) home, I honestly thought, there I would see my children marry and leave home...there hubby and I would grow old and finally take our last breath. It was not meant to be.

I am moving on, even if slowly. We either move forward or die. And I want so much to move forward and see what new and wonderful things life just might have for me to see. :)

Thank you for your visit, dear friend. BIG hugs...

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By riginal on July 25, 2014 at 02:45 am

maybe V the rush of the future is a vain attempt to erase the memories that once hung in the art gallery of our personal lives. Even after they've been taken down the indelible outline remains. Maybe the bad memories are meant to linger there as a counterbalance which in turn fade with time if you allow them to and magnify the good ones as a result? But i'll never forgive that bakery for overcharging for that pie! I've hung that vicious large hairy woman's picture in my mind's art gallery...took triple hooks! :>)

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By HomeRearedChef on July 25, 2014 at 05:42 pm

Riginal, I hope the picture of the large and hairy woman doesn't give you nightmares. Perhaps it is time to take it down? lol!

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