I grew up hearing about this whole idea of "getting one's affairs in order," and I'm now convinced it's never done. We do the best we can while we're alive and functional to get it all wrapped up. Inevitably, though, stuff gets left for the next generation to deal with. I thought I knew what I was up against, but there's been a literal truck-load of surprises..and resurrected memories.
Yesterday marked three months since Tiggy and I rolled into Denver, looking for our temporary hotel address in the evening rain. Now that we have set down roots in Littleton, all boxes have been opened, California belongings have been sorted through, and I have made my 685-square-foot apartment my cozy home. "Cozy" in this case means a dramatic downsizing from a 1,775-square-foot house, made possible with my measuring tape and some ingenuity in use of wall space and odd niches, like the outer space under my kitchenette bar. The process of deciding which of my literally hundreds of books to keep has been the most emotionally and logistically tasking, but I've found odd-sized shelving to utilize the nooks and crannies, giving a deliberately offbeat, untidy, nerdy-chic to the living room and inner hallway. Pics to come, when I can...
I've made room for family knick-knacks and held onto some heirloom furniture, because each piece resonates with so many memories, clear back to when I was a little girl in Kenmore, NY. Their touch, their color, their scent all are anchors during years floating from one coast to another, settling in the middle of this country. The real treasures, though, have emerged as I have taken slow, deliberate evenings to go through the stuff that I'd so hurriedly tossed into cardboard boxes in California...a therapeutic task in the best sense of the word.
It may sound grandiose, but I actually feel somewhat responsible for the safe-keeping of memories of four generations. Each person--my parents, my grandparents, and my late husband--now has a plastic storage box, clearly labeled, filled with the items they've left behind. I've also found out some things I never would have known...no one ever mentioned that my mother, while attending Glendale College as a middle-aged LVN student, landed a scholarship and was inducted into the Alpha Gamma Sigma Society...my Aunt Sis wrote to Mom just days before her fatal heart attack to report that Uncle Roger had to be institutionalized for his Alzheimer's-driven rages...my maternal grandmother's heroic care of her second husband after his blindness...precious, colorful threads of a family tapestry, so much that I don't want lost to my son and his offspring...it's all here, organized for his own eventual discovery.
Coincidentally, I have found some media validation of my efforts at life-simplification. More Magazine's most recent issue had an article entitled, "The Joy of Wanting Less." Then, tucked in one of my psychology textbooks, I found a 2005 Los Angeles Times article that I had clipped out. It was about going through lots of family possessions. I'd totally forgotten I'd saved this piece, but I can't believe that it was an accident that I'd found it after all this time. It was like a message in a bottle, to tell me that I'm going to be okay.
So, in the weekends that follow, I think it'll be time to put on my new boots...and get out to that Country Western place that offers free dancing lessons.