Some things become trash, but others are treasures

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Posted 7/05/16 (Tue)

Whines & Roses
By Cecile Wehrman

This week, I am reminiscing about things. Not things, as in a variety of abstract notions, but about actual things -- items we purchase, use, store, destroy or throw away.
I suppose it’s natural, as my children had the task of emptying their late father’s home and held an estate sale last week. If someone had said they should have held an auction sale instead, I would have scoffed -- but not after seeing just how many physical things in need of either discarding, selling or in need of a new home.
Mostly, a lot of useful items were sold at reasonable prices and I think we’re all grateful for every item that found its way into the back of someone else’s pickup, or into a box someone stowed in their back seat, because those were fewer items left to deal with at the end.
I certainly never thought, when the kids were growing up, that we were well to do. Certainly, we were not affluent. Never rich. And yet, a tub full of unwanted stuffed animals alone makes a person realize how frequently, as parents, we buy some bauble for our children that will one day be carted out of a house and into a large roll-off dumpster because, in truth, no one wants them anymore.
In this way, the sale wasn’t just about their father’s things, but about all of the items a family collects over the years, much of which is not needed for everyday life.
For me, personally, most of what remained in the house either belonged to my children or, I felt, to the household and so I said goodbye to those things long ago. You know what? I never missed them. Not once.
But faced with the possibility of a few items either being sold for much less than they were worth to me when I lived there, I suddenly found there were some things I really wanted to have -- a hall tree I picked out from Garbel’s Furniture with saved up Christmas money from The Journal; the large dining room rug I searched for online for weeks; and most fortuitously, a stove that works much better than the one in my new house when I moved in a year-and-a-half ago.
These items will reside with me now, along with an assortment of a few other small and useful things I could have lived without, but am thankful to have, just the same.
I was also glad to be there to help the kids recognize a few family items that, even if they don’t look special on the outside, contain a memory or were special to their dad.
In recent months, I’ve also been the recipient of items that belonged to my late sister -- photographs, school records, high school albums. 
I remember when my grandmother passed away and my sister and I stood around a china cabinet sorting through antique doll dishes --  that china cabinet was sold at auction and later came back to me as a gift from Jamie’s grandmother.
I look at my grandmother’s rocking chair, returned to me by Jamie’s mother who bought it at Grandma’s auction -- now parked in my living room along with many other things that came from my grandparents.
I have lived my life surrounded by these things. There was a time when I put many of these items away, but once assembling my own personal home again, these old things -- these things that contain memories -- these are the things most dear to me. Why wouldn’t I surround myself with things that were loved and appreciated by people before me?
I find it quite comforting. I need only look around my house to remember my grandparents, my sister and other people who I have loved and was loved by in return.
“Things” in themselves hold little value. When someone passes away, it would be impossible to hold on to every single thing, no matter how much those things once meant to the owner.
But the memories attached to some things are priceless and can never be thrown away.