Tuesday, June 27, 2006

It's Just Stuff

I recently received two small boxes of "stuff" after my dad died. That's all that was left, two small boxes and nothing important, some house keys, his wallet and driver's license, a few photos and letters, a small Matchbox car in an unopened package and a small lap comforter with blood stains on it.

I'm a natural born collector and come by it rightfully, so was my dad. My mother is neat, clean, has no attachment to "stuff" and doesn't like clutter. She would just as soon throw out something that I think has sentimental value as to keep it.

Recently when I've visited her, I've noticed things missing. "Mom, where is the clock Ted gave you?" "Mom where are the fans?" "Mom, where, where where???" She never knows, her memory is either gone or foggy and pretty soon her life will be down to two small boxes also.

My hairdresser also has a mother with dementia and said he's been wondering the same thing. Where's the stuff? "Mom, where is that coin collection I had as a kid?" "Mom, where did you put that artwork I gave you?" No answers, no explanations, things are just gone. He conjectured that the older we get, the harder time we seem to have holding onto our "stuff". People are in and out of the house, on a whim things might be given to someone who will appreciate them or just dumped in the Goodwill bin. It's just stuff after all and the people and the memories are the things to be cherished.

I've lovingly put the two small boxes of stuff from my dad into one, washed the comforter, put it on my sofa, looked through his wallet, saw the Golden Age pass we got him when we were together at a national park at Christmas and realized it was probably the last time he ever signed his name. His mind was gone but his signature was as strong as ever. There were little receipts, a list of members of his retirees club and a $20 bill I gave him 3 years ago when he said he didn't have any money. Being the sentimentalist and the collector that I am, I will keep these things, I will cherish them as much as if he'd left me a Picasso and I realize that "stuff" is just "stuff" but if you are like me, it's still "good" stuff. I love that line in a Don Henley song about hearses not coming with luggage racks. So true. It's just stuff.


Barbara said...

It's odd to think about what the stuff will be that will be left when we're no longer here. I'm glad your father's stuff found a sympathetic home with you.

Joanie said...

I don't think this is just *stuff*. I believe that this stuff hold your Dad and your memories. It has value and you recognize that. Cherish your Dad's *stuff*. I know I have since my Dad's death. It's all I have of him and his time here.

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