Friday, April 20, 2018
Opinion

Guest column: Don't sweat your stuff, it's irrelevant

There comes a time in everyone's life when you realize you have too much stuff. This was apparent to my husband and me when we decided to move from a house to a smaller abode.

Even for Florida our house was blessed (cursed) with good storage space.

The attic, closets, cupboards and the drawers were brimming with our stuff. Every time I tried to hide a UPS delivery my dear husband would shake his head in wonder. I felt like I had to help the economy but he felt I was doing it all by myself. So, we accumulated more stuff.

Before we listed the house for sale, I tried to make the closets and cupboards look roomy by getting rid of things. After the house sold and it was time to pack I realized I hadn't even skimmed the surface. We had about five weeks to downsize. Or was it right size?

Our new home was a villa and about 400 square feet smaller but I did not see it as a problem. I was determined to reduce three closets full of shoes, purses and clothes into one small closet. Another problem was my 11 sets of dishes.

"One of the many pleasures of old age is giving things up," said the late British journalist Malcolm Muggeridge. Well, yes, it is easy to give up waterskiing and mountain climbing. But, it is not easy giving away your favorite dancing shoes or your dishes.

Over the weeks prior to the move we made daily trips to the Salvation Army, Hospice thrift store, Habitat for Humanity and any other organization that would take our stuff. We also found the Pasco County refuse dump where we could get rid of old paint and electronics.

I contracted a moving company and it estimated one truck and two men could do the job in six or seven hours. It turned out it took three men and two days to move our right-sized stuff six blocks to the new villa. Fortunately, the moving company has a resale shop where we could place large items that did not fit.

The months have passed and all the boxes are gone. We have filled the attic, beneath the bed and any open spaces with our stuff. I am constantly looking for something I gave away. I think about going to the resale shops to see if I can buy my things back but I do not know where I would put them.

In the middle of my fretting about my stuff, an e-mail from my cousin put it all in perspective. She was my maid of honor many years ago. We were best friends, but somehow we lost touch over the years. Just recently we had reconnected. I was very saddened to hear she had lost her husband unexpectedly early this year.

Her e-mail stated she was in her home recently when a flash flood caught the house and moved it off the foundation. She was rescued by the sheriff, but all her belongings and her car were destroyed.

All around us tragedies happen to people and it reminds us that stuff is just so much rubbish. The real stuff in this world is our family and our friends and the place you store them is in your heart.

Mary Partington lives in west Pasco.

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