Saturday, June 10, 2006

What to keep and what to give away

My mother and I often discuss what my parents would like us children to do if they become terminally ill or if they pass away. That may sound morbid, but we are practical women and like to have plans set so that when a life changing event occurs, we have something to fall back on. We are the eternal realists, not optimists.

One thing we discuss is what is to happen to the houseful of furniture, knicknacks, tools, etc. that have accumulated over the years despite my best efforts of trying to get my parents to "clear the clutter". We children all live thousands of miles away and I shudder to think of having to pack and move those material goods. Most likely we would sell the stuff at an estate auction. But what would we keep? Is there anything so valuable to us that we would be willing to pack and ship it across the country?

Of course there is. The topmost thing on the list would be the photographs, decades worth of memories stored in old cardboard boxes, half with no name or date on them so it is anyone's guess whether the boy in the picture is Uncle David or little Danny. How do you divy up pictures? Does the person in the picture maintain material rights to it? What about in cases like mine, where my twin is in 98% of the photos with me? Let's put this one aside and go on with the list.

Each of us children do want one of the pieces of furniture my father has crafted over the years. Since we know the history behind each piece, not only is it a fine piece of furniture but it is also a bit my father's legacy. My sister and I have been lucky because dad has made things specifically for us and our homes, so even though we may all want the Shaker cabinet he crafted, I don't think there will be hard feeling by those who don't get it, since we already have something from dad.

What of mom? What would I want that would forever bring back found memories of my dear mom? She is a strong, stubborn, capable woman who has not had yet found a creative outlet for her talents. Perhaps some of her recipes, so that each time I prepeare one, I would fondly remember a dinner she created. Since dried out chicken was her specialty when I was growing up, maybe this is not such a good idea.

Perhaps something mom and dad made together. When we were toddlers, they often took to creating "one project wonders", where they would tackle a project complete and so they could say they did it and then be done with idea forever. They took our outgrown clothes and fashioned a colorful patchwork quilt out of them, handstiching the entire thing. My brother came into possesion of it (how, I do not know) and I believe still has it in the trunk of his car, for cold weather emergencies or warm weather picnics.

I am lucky in that I have an example of some of their handiwork. They did a large "paint-by-number" fabric painting with special fabric pens that were popular in the late '70's. After they were done with their "painting", dad hand-made the frame in which it hangs today in my living room. It is a very folk art type of painting, one that brings admiration from all who see it and awe when they realize it was done by my parents. It is the one material possesion (other than photographs) that I swore I would take with us last year when it looked as thought we were to be hit by hurricane Rita.

So that brings me to this question, what would you keep if you had the choice of only one thing (and it can't be photographs)?

1 comment:

Envoy-ette said...

Like you and your mother, my family as also had the "death talk". My 2nd sister is getting the BIBLES of mom & dad. You can't get any more personal then that. My 3rd sister is getting the china. The oldest is getting the family antiques that are tied to wall baskets. I'm getting the cookoo clock dad brought back from Japan, and mom's Fenton. There are smaller things as well..and mom has put our names on tape and placed it on the items. My first choice is the pewter items we shopped for together when I was teenager. I see those days even now.

The only problem we see in the future are the husbands. Well, two other husbands who have said, "sell EVERYTHING and divide the money 4 ways". NO WAY is that going to happen! They will find themselves sitting on the front steps...locked out if they even mention it! Ha!!!