Thursday, September 29, 2011

Just stuff

My dad lives in a retirement community in Florida. There’s nothing unusual about that. Lots of people end up in those places. There’s a fairly high turn over. To be brutally honest, people die there all the time. Relatives are always cleaning up after the funeral.

One of the things that struck me is how little stuff of value most people leave behind. By the time they’ve moved to a trailer in Florida, they’ve cut back on the amount of stuff they own. Life gets pared down to the essentials: some clothes, a few dishes, a TV and a few mementos. There may be a car and/or a golf cart.

Most of the clothes and kitchen stuff is given to charity. Maybe someone takes the TV, but often those are sold or left behind. Someone will claim the car. What surprises me is how many of the mementos end up in the dumpster. Old family photos, albums and albums worth, are tossed away. Too often the things that documented a person’s connection to the people of the world isn’t worth anything to anyone.

A couple of years ago my mother-in-law had a great idea. She gathered up all her old photos. They were put in nice new albums and carefully labeled. Those albums were given to her kids, and grandkids -the only people in the world those photos will have any meaning to. We all appreciated getting them. It connected people to their past and to their ancestors.

Most of us don’t leave much stuff behind when we finally shuffle off this mortal coil. If you want to leave something that means something, better do it before you go. Otherwise, in the haste to get things squared away, the story of your life will go into the trash.



  1. Sixbears - i used to go to a lot of yard sales and garage sales. it would always sadden me when there would be a box of dusty, old photos - some in frames, some in old photo albums, some just plain black and white pictures. i would stare at the faces as often written on the back of the photo was the names of the people and dates written on the back. i was even more saddened when i would ask the owner why they were selling the pictures and would be told that the box of pics and whatnot had been found in the attic or at the back of the basement and they didn't know who the people were that were in the pics.

    i wasn't sure if it saddened me because we no longer share living in houses from generation to generation - and therefore would have all of these old photos and know who the people were. or, it might be that we have so quickly lost the names of people who came only 60-100 years before us. either or - it is very sad that these connections have been lost.

    it used to be that people knew who their granddaddy's granddaddy's name was, and all of his brothers and sisters names too. and every cousin and how they were connected.

    nowadays in our modern society, people often don't know their grandmother's name. i find all of that kind of sad.

    great post.

  2. Oh so sad. I have collected all the old family pictures from as far back as tin plates photos. I appreciate and want to know about my ancestors. Don't know what will become of them when I depart, no one seems that interested who is young enough to carry it on.

  3. When I go shuffling off, I doubt they'll need a very big trash can for what's left. Luckily for my family, my mother wrote down a family tree that goes way back on both sides. Course our kids will have our blogs to remember us by.

  4. My mom is down sizing what she has and i scanned all photos on to a flash drive. I made her 8 copies that she plans to give to the family as presents at christmas,I kept the originals.

  5. My few favorite gifts: the albums from each Grandma, the black pearl necklace from Father Sergis later given to me, and the medicine shield Mom made for me. Those are more important than any stuff.