I’ve been working my way through some of mom’s possessions which followed her from her apartment to her new abode in our home. I’ve been trying to put as many of her decorative objects into use here as I have room, so as to make her feel more comfy and at home. Though she has already been through two other downsizing events in the past two years, we are still left with way more items than she needs (or can appreciate in this stage of Alzheimer’s). As much as possible has been given to family members who have expressed an interest in her belongings. My daughter took on the responsibility of selling or giving away the furniture that was no longer needed (and I am SO grateful for her help). Each day the invasion of moving boxes on my 3-season porch gets smaller as I carve out time to go through their contents. For this, I am grateful.
I realize my mom’s amount of “stuff” pales in comparison to others in a similar stage of life, but the amount of stuff I’m dealing with suggests that maybe I need to pay close attention to the number of things I am accumulating in life. How many 9×13 baking dishes do I really need? Will I ever really have an occasion to wear that dress I wore to my daughter’s wedding 16 years ago?
Life altering events that our parents, grandparents and elderly friends experience have a way of reminding me that the stuff of life is not going with us some day. When God called my Dad home to heaven, absolutely none of his stuff went with him, nor will any of Momma’s … or mine.
In this process of downsizing, it has been fun sharing some of my mother’s possessions with others. Of course, I could just keep all the stuff in boxes and give it away to a local charity. It’s WAY more fun to share some of my mother’s possessions with others who would appreciate their worth and enjoy owning them. As I’ve been going through my mother’s things, I’ve also been going through my own and have been redistributing the wealth.
My friend Amanda started a closed group Facebook page devoted to being the means for members of our church to share our belongings. The page is aptly called a “Stuff Exchange.” It’s a great place to offer up gently used items we no longer need to someone who could benefit by owning it. In a nutshell, here’s how it works. We place a picture of the item and a little description as a post on the Facebook page, then whoever is interested claims the item in the “comment” section. There is a shelf at church where the items are then placed until they’re claimed by the new owner. One of our fellow stuff exchange regulars recently shared, “I love the stuff exchange. Going to church is like Christmas morning, and I get to go home and open my presents.”
I recently packaged up my Mom’s monogrammed glassware and gave them to “Mrs. B” at our church. I knew that, much like my mom, Wendy has the gift of hospitality and that there might be occasions when Mom’s “B” glasses would be put to good and gracious use.
Craft supplies (particularly my own counted cross stitch stuff) went to one of the young girls in our congregation who has taken up that past-time as her hobby.
One young mother found herself suddenly single, having to start all over, and in need of just about everything. I was able to share quite a few practical things with her from my mother’s well-appointed kitchen.
Momma loved to wear costume jewelry. She had neatly organized drawers full of pretty necklaces, bracelets, brooches and clip-on earrings. Most of that jewelry has now found new owners.
Mom’s massive collection of doilies took the trip to church and just may grace a few tables at a future vintage-inspired wedding reception. I am sure they will look much more beautiful there than they did packed away in a box.
Lamps are gracing someone else’s end table, end tables are under someone else’s lamps. Momma’s dining room china cabinet is displaying someone else’s pretty things. The living room sofa now provides a comfy place to sit and chat at a nearby senior apartment building. Sheets and blankets have found news beds to dress. Favorite books are in someone else’s “read someday” pile. Baking dishes will again serve yummy dishes on another family’s dinner table.
I will probably run out of friends and family before I run out of things to give away. But, in this process, I’m learning much about the value of things in comparison with the value of being a blessing to others.
I find it rewarding to know that my parents embodied what has been part of their church logo for many years: “Where People Matter.” Mom and Dad knew that sharing The Gospel with people was of utmost importance. Anyone who knew them understood that they sacrificially invested much more of their time and money in people than they ever did on their possessions.
Those investments and treasures are stored up in heaven and will last for all eternity.