Our homes hold items of memories that remind us of people and places. Some we know and some are just history. Then the time comes when we must sort through all these memories and start letting go.
If you’ve ever cleaned out your parent’s house you get an idea but don’t understand. A perfumed letter stuffed I a cardboard box signed by a person no one knows. A sepia tone of a pretty girl at the beach smiling at the photographer stuffed under the mattress. His father’s watch put away in a drawer and never worn but held as a treasure. Report cards and letters from teachers on how good or bad her son was in school wrapped in a ribbon. That special dress bagged and stuffed back in the closet, worn but to never be worn again. A tuxedo jacket from decades of smoke filled rooms and laughter hanging on a wooden hanger.
These are things that have a special meaning and just can’t be thrown away. Now look around in your house. Particularly this time of year with all the decorations and lights and memories brought down from the attic or up from the basement and dusted off to help make the holidays a occasion, then be stuffed back into their hibernation for another 11 months.
Having never been a parent, I can only relay the stories of others when their first child goes to college, or gets married, or dies. Yes, death is the ultimate letting go.
Those who die let go without a choice perhaps but I’ll not know until I get there. For everyone else, the experience becomes a lasting memory. Like the white tux coat or the perfumed letter, death is stored away to be remembered on holidays or anniversaries or just when there is a certain sound or smell that reminds you of the one who is gone from the daily activity of life.
The remains that will be cleaned out by you or your heirs may continue in a family vault of memories or become trash out of necessary. It is a difficult and sometimes timely process but sooner or later it must be done. Some things just can’t be past down from generation to generation without becoming faded and moldy.
We’ve all had to let go of our favorite t-shirt that just didn’t fit and got too full of holes or that favorite jacket that was too tight and out of style or even that automobile that brought the two of you together but was now full of rust. The puppy that your dad said ran away but was probably run over had to be let go. Your girlfriend who was going to be the ‘one’ but went off with another boy had to be let go.
They are never forgotten because they are a weave of our character but the emotional attachment must be let go to move on. Last night I was trying to explain my late wife to a person who never met her. I realized I was creating this bizarre picture of a woman possessed, but it was much more than that.
I’m sitting here watching football in freezing temperatures. I’m listening to the Rolling Stones earmuff headphones and washing down a pizza with Colorado water. I’m wrapped in a white blanket smelling of mothballs. This handmade blanket was brought home on a hot summer day. At the first Folk Festival our city ever had, we attended as a couple. Wandering from stage to stage of various music only breaking for a brief munchies and cool beverage, we follow the stream of bodies past craft tents. Like most crowded events I wanted to continue moving until we could find a spot to breath, but she found something. She discussed with the artesian the fabric of her curiosity. I stood still and watch the crowds crawl slowly by. She came to me and said we must buy this white blanket. She said it cost $100. Not one to be quickly swayed to hand out the bucks but appreciate the arts, I thought of the number of blankets and spreads we already had. Besides it must be 100 degrees out here and we don’t need a wool blanket. She gave me the look and I parted with the Franklin and carried the weight for the rest of the day.
The blanket is handmade and is very warm and comfortable. It was probably a very good bargain. With those years without heat it did let us sleep under it and stay warm. Now it keeps my legs warm just like some stadium cover. The mothball smell will dissipate through the cold season and then it will be put back in the cedar box awaiting another request.
Memories of days at the beach or picnics or walks in the park or those nights of just sitting under the new trees in the yard with a glass of cheap wine and a constant smile will always be wrapped up in this blanket. Some things are hard to let go.