Monday, 23 June 2008

More decisions

There is of course more than books to grieve over. For many years I have collected coffee grinders, copper kettles and other unnecessary objects. Some copper kettles can be used as flower pots, but otherwise they are quite useless and take a lot of space. Some years ago we inherited loads of things after two deceased relatives. Our house filled with vases, dishes, silver cutlery, embroidered linen and other possessions that our great-grandmothers treasured as signs of wealth. But who needs forty sets of cutlery today? If you give a party for forty guests you’d most likely use catering. Who needs stacks of kitchen towels? I have so many that my grandchildren could still use them when they are retired. And how many tea services can you wear out in a lifetime? I am not the kind of person who takes out special plates and cups for Christmas or Easter. Can openers, souvenir mugs, table mats, wooden figurines – all those tokens of passing interest, brought from trips abroad, received as meaningless gifts, bought on an impulse and never used. But there are object of sentimental value, like a mortar I brought with me from my previous life, a gift from a woman who had meant a lot to me. There are a few things that you just can’t part with.

First of all, I turned to the children with a list of things available. The answer was a prompt no. No even no, thank you. All homes are nowadays crammed with redundant items, and our daughters have competed in the noble art of getting rid of worldly burden. I have tried myself, but I have problems throwing away fully functional things that someone might find useful. Charity is a good solution, so we took carloads to the nearest Salvation Army. I tried selling some of the more valuable things on eBay, but it was more trouble than it was worth. I finally sold three full boxes to an antique shop for a symbolic price, just because they said they would come and collect them. A friend agreed to take a fifty-piece china set that I had used twice in twenty-five years. I drove her home with it. Another friend was getting married and starting a household, so she was grateful for anything she could get, including bookcases, an old futong, and a palm tree. Each guest we entertained during this time went home with a little gift.

Eventually the kids reconsidered their position and picked up this and that, mumbling that they only did it to be nice. By this time, I had got over separation anxiety. If they asked for something that I had intended to take along, I would say: “Take it now and don’t let me see it again”. There are still boxes and paper bags all over the house labelled with names. It’s like dividing inheritance in advance.

Staffan says he hopes I won’t throw away him.

No comments: