Letting Go

LETTING GOThink of the most precious personal item you own; now think about parting with that item. The thought of throwing out your favorite childhood teddy bear, even though he’s all ratty and falling apart, is pretty unsettling. Now, think about parting with all the cherished items collected over a lifetime from someone you love. It’s not a very pleasant thought.
As many of you know, my dear mom, Josephine Guarino, passed away on May 3rd, 2017. As an only child, I have been tasked with getting all her affairs in order, to finalize her estate. Part of that daunting process includes selling her home and all its contents. My dear mother was an elegant, organized hoarder. You are asking yourself, “what does that mean?”. Simply, my mother loved beautiful things, and bought things even if she didn’t need them. If she purchased a blouse in blue and liked how it fit, she then bought it in every color it came in. If she had one pair of leather gloves, she had a hundred, in all lengths and all colors. In other words, her home, while meticulously neat, was a warehouse filled with multiplies of everything.
Overwhelmed by the task of disposing of all her personal effects, I engaged the services of a company who specializes in estate sales. The woman, Jane, who owns and operates the company was lovely and very sympathetic. We discussed at length which items would be offered for sale, which would be retained by me to be given to charity and which were to be thrown out. It all seemed so simple.
The day of the sale I went to my mom’s home. The second I walked through the doora feeling of depression washed over me. There, for all the world to see, laid upon tables and counters, was the contents of every cabinet, drawer and closet. I was horrified. My dear mother, who, even at ninety, had always prided herself on the fact that her home was spotless, was probably doing flips.
I stood there, in the midst of all this ‘stuff’, and cried. I wept for the loss of my mother. I wept for the exposure of her privacy. I felt like I had betrayed my mother; invaded her privacy and left her vulnerable to the public. Jane walked in and said nothing but came over and held me in her arms until I regained a modicum of composure. She sat me down on a chair that had been at my mother’s table for nearly sixty years and softly spoke to me.
“I know this is hard; I’ve been through it myself. I knew from the moment I first walked into this home that someone who loved beautiful things lived here. The care with which she had maintained her home and personal belongings was a testament to how much she enjoyed life. Now, as painful as this may be, its time to share these precious things with others who will appreciate them.”
I looked into her warm eyes, and knew she was right. I had taken those things that were significant to me; things from my childhood and realized that there was only so much I wanted or needed to add to the growing treasure trove of my own things. I pulled myself together just in time to receive the onslaught of collectors who had come to partake in this event.
I stayed long enough to hear some of those who came telling Jane how beautiful the pieces were, or how they had been looking for a particular item for years and in what pristine condition everything was in. At that moment, I felt so proud of my Mom. These people “got it”, they understood her need to surround herself with beautiful things and the love and care she took with each piece.
I hope that when we meet again Mom will be happy with what I did. The one lesson I have learned, is that holding on to things that make you happy is not hoarding. Of course, my children have warned me about just this kind of behavior, I suppose its genetic.

Filed in: Obituaries

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