The son of a dear friend recently gave me pause to re-evaluate how I approach my material possessions in the context of ageing.
He declared to his mother that when she died he intended to hire a skip and dump everything in it, sparing nothing, for there was nothing he wanted.
This was a shocking revelation and had a profound effect on me. Who will be interested in my yellowing collection of fascinating newspaper articles or want my 1980s ball gowns, and who will covet my Union Jack drinks tray? I am not sure I like the answers. These possessions are meaningful to me alone and I have only just realised this.
Enough already of buying stuff; I now wish to head into my dotage clutter-free. I fully intend to live for 100 years, a spritely, skinny, active old thing, and so have around 45 years for my plan to come to fruition.
There will be no explosive purge but slowly, like sand seeping from a pocket, I will discard my possessions until I am left with only the proverbial shirt on my back and with my cupboards emptier than Old Mother Hubbard’s.
Thus, when it comes time for my children to empty my home, it will already have been done for them and they will be saved the emotional burden of what to do with all Mum’s stuff. Like a relay baton, all heirlooms will already have been passed to the next generation.
This plan pleases me enormously. My memories reside in the cells of my heart, not in the clutter that has filled my daily existence. I know I will never need another unused kitchen gadget. I have paperwork going back to the 90s that is now destined for the shredder.
My passion for cushions and padded coathangers will cease forthwith. I cannot wait to clear my life. But rather than it being empty I am confident it will be brimful, overflowing with loved ones, lit with all the pleasure and pain of a good life well-lived. The only possessions remaining will ooze practicality.
I will ceremonially begin this process by pulling the plug on the full-size inflatable Dalek, a character from Doctor Who, that has been sitting in our hallway for more than a decade. (Now you begin to understand the full extent of my stuff.)
I mentioned my plan to a work colleague; she said nothing but her eyes screamed “bonkers”. My children didn’t listen, already knowing I am bonkers, but my friend understood.
And when I have finished with my possessions I will start on my husband’s. His collection of empty wine bottles is firmly in my sights. But I haven’t told him yet.
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