What’s the hardest thing about downsizing? Parting with the things we keep for both practical and sentimental reasons. Let’s face it, some things are REALLY hard to part with! My old cell phone, for instance, has no use whatsoever, except that it stores the text messages that my sister Ferne and I shared daily for the 3 years before she died. The memories stored there are priceless to me but meaningless to anyone else.
Ferne taught me everything I know about the value of being organized. For more than 30 years her home was ‘central station,’ where her children, grandchildren and our extended family gathered. She loved to cook and delighted in spoiling everyone around her with food, gifts and unconditional love. Being an artist, her photographs, and knickknacks—her creativity—was displayed in every corner of her home. And did I mention . . . she loved clothes, purses and shoes too! Yet while she kept all she owned in order, there was clearly way too much when, soon after she developed terminal cancer, she and her husband had to downsize to a condo.
Ferne’s tenacity in downsizing, despite her condition, was an inspiration. Going through a lifetime of collectables isn’t easy; it takes a methodical approach. My sister chose to do a great deal of the work herself but she also enlisted the assistance of family and friends. Watching her twin granddaughters help sort special cards/gifts their father had given my sister was wonderful to witness; the twins learned a lot about their dad that day—knowing they didn’t need to keep it all. The process and experience will stay with them forever.
We are very fortunate if we can decide what to keep, what to share, and what is no longer valuable. It’s an enviable position to be in: many don’t have the opportunity. By the time my sister passed away, every single detail had been looked after; there wasn’t a scrap of useless paper. Her clothes closet and bedroom bureaus were perfectly arranged with items in pristine condition to make the work of going through her personal items less difficult.
With the assistance of empathic and caring people, Ferne ultimately shared her treasures with family, friends and strangers alike. People who attended her garage sales; university students; low income families; those who found things she donated to places like ‘Women in Need’ (WIN) or ‘Anney’s Closet’—would all benefit.
We get attached to our belongings. They recall fond memories of our lives. But when we’re ready to sort through the gifts, photographs, artwork, cards/letters and furniture that bring us comfort and choose what we really need, it’s liberating. One of my sister’s greatest gifts was not leaving us with the task of going through her entire home without her. That would have been heartbreaking. Instead, each of us had precious moments with her in life where she gifted us with small, meaningful mementos.
So, about that old cell phone of mine? I’m ready now to sit down, type up all of our correspondence, print it on beautiful paper, laminate it and store it in my treasure box
of memories . . .
Photos by Beverly Revin – All Rights Reserved
Guest Author Bio
Beverly Revin, Professional Organizer, owns and operates Outright Organized with her business partner Desiree White-Raagner. Together they are the ‘Dream Team.’
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