The thing that got me started thinking about my “stuff” was a conversation I had with a complete stranger while we were standing on line at the Marriott in Birmingham, AL. I was there visiting my step children. Out of the blue, the woman in front of me on the line for breakfast omelets started telling me that she was in Birmingham to clean out her mother’s estate. She could not believe how much stuff she had to go through. She said she wished that her mother had given her a manual full of stories because she could not fathom the reason behind the items. What did they mean to her mother? To her they were just junk. She could not make heads or tails out of the clutter and she did not have the time to go through all of it. She had to get back to Texas to work.
When we got home, I looked around my tiny beach cottage home. I saw all the paintings that no one will be able to store even if they wanted to. I saw my furniture through the eyes of my daughter and step children. I have Ethan Allen traditional pieces alongside garage sale chic. Every item has a story. But who had time to tell the story and who had time to listen?
And besides, the adult kids all want West Elm. They aren’t interest in our stuff.
I am trying to maintain our money. I am trying to make it last.
There is the house, our so called greatest asset (but also our greatest money pit). There is the homeowners insurance. There is the roof specialist and the boiler burner man. There is heating contractor. There is the plumber, the painter, the electrician, the gardner, the house cleaner. There is the handyman and the general contractor, the mason, the bricklayer. There is the chimney sweep. There is the spring maintenance list and the fall maintenance list. There are the garbage collectors and the tax collectors. There is the arborist.
I am afraid that if I don’t maintain my house, one day I will wake up in an old lady’s house. And that old lady will be me. Then I worry that I may not wake up at all.
So, if I only have ten good years left, then maybe I had better do all those things I wanted to do while I can still walk and remember. I had always wanted to go to Israel with my husband. We put it off. And now the JCC trip will only take people who are 65 and younger. My husband is too old.
I spent my whole adult life trying to get my house to look and function exactly right. I almost succeeded. But like Sisyphus, just as I reach the apex, that rock comes rolling down. And besides, renovating is whole lot more fun than maintaining. I wonder if I even know how many times I have painted each room. I wonder if I will have to have the cement in the front and around the sides redone. I wonder if I will care enough to have the work down.