INHERITANCE

Posted by on Apr 7, 2006 in Death and renewal, Family ties, Just for laughs | 0 comments

In my old age I shall become a minimalist. I shall sit cross-legged on a small rug contemplating the natural tones of my bare room, and the one Zen object that I have placed at its center. Foods that are cooked will only require one pot, one knife, one bowl, and one pair of chopsticks to eat…. Wait, what is that noise? Oh dear, I think it’s the old dragon that I’m married to, snoring from on top of his immense horde of booty. Sigh, I guess I’m having that dream again. The one where my life is not cluttered with crocheted afghans, antique Victorian biscuit jars, letters written by great grandparents, and furniture from a seemingly unending variety of styles and centuries. Please understand that I am most grateful to have wonderful family members who have made me the repository for all their decorating dreams. Except for one large, BUT…

The first wave that came from my husband’s grandmother more than 20 years ago seemed like manna from heaven. That is, until I realized that we would have to buy a larger house. Well, the old one was a little small for our growing family, so we took the plunge and bought a house we felt grandmother would have approved of as the proper setting for her Victorian antiques.

When my mother passed away 8 years later, I think all the children were surprised that Dad wanted to sell the house she had furnished in a the beautiful country/colonial style she treasured. Another moving truck was hired and stuffed with solid walnut, maple, and cherry, plus the requisite kitchen equipment and linens. Even divided three ways I ended up with enough pots, pans, and doodads to start my own restaurant. We shuffled and accommodated, knowing that our children would be starting out in life, and might appreciate the furnishings in a few years. Turns out that even if the stuff had suited their taste, they could not drag it across the country or the ocean to their homes of choice. In fact, before they flew away, they left the pieces they had purchased, and were unable to part with, down in, you guessed it, my basement.

To top us off, about 5 years ago the last set of parents decided to downsize and move into 2 rooms in a retirement home. I would have very little nostalgia for things belonging to my step-mother-in-law, but the treasures she had saved from my husband’s Mom were another story. I bought new shelves to put in the laundry room to stack boxes of china, pictures, silver, and crystal in a holding pattern, so it could be turned over to the new generation when they were ready.

For all the years of my childhood my mother had a picture in her house of a cozy county bedroom with a fireplace, comfy chairs, and a cat playing around a basket of yarn. She lived to create the room she dreamed of, with some revisions to incorporate reality, including the fact that she hated cats, and knitting. I know she loved the bedroom she made, but I never thought to ask her while she was alive, if it actually matched the dream she had about the life she would live in that room. There were no people in the picture, but if there had been, I doubt if, like her, they would have been sitting in the cozy chair, late into the night, doing paperwork for their business. That, along with her in the same chair, frail and sick from cancer, are my most vivid memories of the room she loved.

My picture of the perfect room exists only in my mind, and in an alternative reality. Mr. Dragon is perfectly content, as it is his nature to accumulate things. In fact, we are both cursed and blessed to be children of a generation of parents who, having lived through the depression and the horrors of war, clung to the solid and real.

It may be too late to save myself, but I would like to provide my story as a cautionary tale for those not yet addicted. Every year you hold on to an item, it becomes that much harder to relinquish. Memories become wrapped like cobwebs, binding you to the physical reality of the pieces in the same way you were bound to the people who passed them on. I am not even sure I would be happy in my dream house, especially since it would require parting with the pink flowered mustache cup, the doll house my daughter and I made and furnished, and the giant music box, circa 1898, with all the discs that play songs from that bygone era. Perhaps I’ll just do what all my forbearers had done and leave the messy job of sorting out all the stuff to my children, after I have moved on to my Zen mansion in the hereafter. Even though I won’t be there to hear them, I can’t help but snicker a bit now, imagining how many times they will say, “ Why in heaven’s name did she keep this!”

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