When we die, we leave exactly how we arrived…empty handed. I remember hearing once that a shroud has no pockets, referring to the fact that “you can’t take it with you, whatever “it” happens to be.”
We have been purging for quite some time now so we are getting down to the things that make us pause before we donate. Our criteria for whether we donate or keep is whether we think our children will want whatever is under consideration. One object under discussion is a small handmade barn full of different sized hand-cut blocks of squares and rectangles. The blocks are building blocks that become whatever the chikds imagination wanted them to be. These belonged to my husband so they are probably around 70 years old.
We have only two grandchildren, both girls, now in their teens. They are well past the age to play with these and even when they were young children they were far more sophisticated and technologically advanced than the original child who played with them. So the question becomes…now what? Someone made them with love and effort for a small child long ago. It feels almost wrong to give them away to strangers, but the truth really is, will a modern child even want it?
Then there is my wedding dress, saved and carefully preserved. It meant so much to me, but when on display for our 40th anniversary, there was no real interest or curiosity about it from our Granddaughters. So I asked my husband, “What should I do with it?” He looked at me and said “Well, for my part, I rented a tux and someone returned it the following day!” I just looked at him while letting that sink in. Hmmmm! So why have I been carefully moving this bridal gown and veil around for 46 years through a multitude of moves? After some thought, I think I will look for a place that takes bridal gowns to be used by women who can’t afford one. My gown was already a vintage look when I purchased it all those years ago, and I imagine someone may like the vintage look today.
Then there are two little puppy blocked quilts that were made for our sons when they were little boys and purchased by their paternal Grandmother. Because they are blue and show little puppies, our Granddaughters never received them because they were boyish.. Besides, our Granddaughters other Grandmother made them a plethora of quilts while she was still alive and I doubt very much these were ever needed or wanted anyway. So, we will look for someone who will enjoy these here and now.
Keepsakes are items that have been kept in memory of the person who first gave it. At most, the memory only lasts a couple of generations and after that it may become a family heirloom but only if the descendants find it desirable. In this day and age of plentitude and excess, it is unlikely that things of the past will capture anyones attention.
I used to really love touring old homes and mansions until one day it came to me that the original owners of the house and property were out lasted by their stuff. No matter how much you have in this life, you cannot take it with you, and even when you leave it behind to specific family, you need to understand that it may not matter to them as much as it has to you.
I am not sure why we are so intent on leaving things behind for our offspring. Maybe it is our way of making peace with the fact of death, as in “Well, I won’t be here anymore, but my stuff will be here as a reminder that I lived and walked this earth. We think a particular item will give them some idea of who we were and what interested us.
But, even if what we leave behind interests the immediate descendants, it isn’t too long before it is just an object from long ago and we are a picture in an old album.
So, with this in mind, we will load up the car and bring these things to places that may find good use for them. In doing so, I feel just fine with saying goodbye to parts of my past. The past is gone anyway, so these mementos may as well be gone too!
It is good enough for me to know that I have been privileged to draw my first and last breath on this earth because God willed that it be so. I have been blessed and loved and have gathered knowledge my entire lifetime. I am NOT my stuff! I am the hugs and kisses I gave to my children so they would learn to pass on the love. I am their first teacher of the difference between right and wromg. Their father and I demonstrated true love between spouses and a faithful marriage so our children would go into their marriages expecting faithfulness too. We taught them about the existence of God and how to communicate with Him through reading the Bible and prayer. We introduced them to Gods son Jesus whose birthday we celebrate every Christmas. We taught them about salvation through faith and grace. We provided for them an education where they would learn to think and contribute positive things to the world. We loved them unconditionally so they would have strength of character in the knowing of their worth..
What we leave behind does not require a suitcase. What we leave behind lives through our children and hopefully also our grandchildren. By not leaving too much “stuff”, the message is that material goods are not that important in the scheme of things. We are leaving bits and pieces of our heart and soul and our intellectual teaching guided by what our own parents and Grandparents taught us. That is what we leave behind. Verses of a hymn their Grandmothers once sang, instructions about how to fish by their grandfather, love of farm life from their other grandfather, how to play cards as a family and bond in the process.
Not gonna need that suitcase for the final trip. The kids won’t need it either. Gosh! It really IS good to travel light isn’t it?