Friday, November 6, 2015

Does This Make Sense to You?

If you're reading this blog, chances are you've been stuck with the task of going through a loved one's belongings after they've passed.  And if you're reading this blog, chances are you've shaken your head once or twice at the stuff they've left behind.

I've written about my husband's pack-rat nature and I've probably been a little unfair about it.  After all, it probably made perfectly good sense to him to keep dried out pens in old check boxes and three mufflers in our garage.  If I had passed before he did, he would have probably cursed me as he got rid of all of the dishes I like to collect and the twenty pairs of black pants hanging in my closet because I can't ever seem to pass them up when I find them in a tall size.

But whomever gets the task of going through my stuff upon my demise might find some other puzzling things around my house that I wish to explain right now.

There's a blue sweatshirt that has a tattered collar and rips in the cuffs of the sleeves.  It's extremely soft on the inside and used to smell like soap and Old Spice deodorant.  Years ago I tried replacing it, but its owner was never satisfied with the newer shirts that I bought.  And then after he died, I spent many a night curled up in it, wishing its former occupant would come back and hug me one more time and I could put my head on the warm, solid shoulder that used to be in it.  You'll see it in pictures holding a newborn baby girl and lying on the floor with a fluffy dog that's with her owner now.

There's a feather bed pillow at the top of my closet that looks yellow with age and someone else probably would have thrown it out years ago.  But it was his favorite and, for some reason, I can't stand to part with it.  The feathers sometimes stick out of the casing, but it can be punched down to the perfect shape that will encase your head and cover your ears.  At least that's what he told me.

There are twelve coolers in my garage that you might think are a little excessive, but were given to us by friends and family at a wedding shower almost 20 years ago when we were moving to Florida.  They've been on picnics, carried their fair share of beer, and take up more room in the garage than necessary.  But for some reason they're necessary to me.

There's a teddy bear in my daughter's room that used to be white, but is now a light gray.  It's holding a red rose, like the one he gave me along with that teddy bear while we celebrated our first Valentine's Day together in college.

There's a metal coffee mug in the back of my kitchen cabinet that has the logo of a college I didn't go to.  It used to hold what I called "girly coffee" (which was more hot chocolate than anything) and wake its owner up when he would get in his car to go to work before anyone else in the house had stirred.

There's a torn leather chair in my office that someone else might have put in a donation pile long ago.  You'll see that chair in many of the pictures with the sweatshirt (they seemed to go hand-in-hand) and it still holds kids when they come home from school and tell me about their day.  It is bulky and worn and most women wouldn't want it in their feminine office.  But to me it fits just right.

And last...there's a note in my drawer written in tiny, neat script that says, "I'll fix this when I get a chance.  B."  It's referring to an antique wooden box given to me by my grandmother that I foolishly broke years ago and almost tossed years later...when I opened it and found the note inside after the giver of the gift and the fixer had long passed.

I know that a lot of this probably doesn't make sense.  And that's okay - it doesn't have to.  We've all marveled and wondered about why people keep the things they do and how something so trivial could possibly be important.

But it's never the thing - it's all that's attached to it.  The thing can be discarded.  But there's always a fear that getting rid of it will make us remember less.

I haven't kept everything he had, which is probably what doesn't make sense to people.  How could she get rid of all of his clothes, yet keep a briefcase that's worn beyond repair?  Why would she keep that really obnoxious football jacket she didn't even like when he was alive?  Why would someone still have an email account saved on her computer with what looks like meaningless emails?

I don't know.  But in some way, it just makes sense to me.

So there.


  1. Thank you for sharing this. It makes perfect sense to me. I tried to throw away 3 tube covers (for tubing behind a boat) a few weeks ago. I lost it and could not do it!! They are back folded up with the other boat gear.
    We bought those tubes for the kids for Christmas about 12-14 years ago. He spent many an hour driving the boat with the kids out on them and he patched them several times.

  2. I get it! I still have his kilt that he wore our last highland games together. He looked so handsome and was so proud to wear it. I still have his V-neck t-shirts, and wear them when I need to.

  3. My husband's dog is getting old, and I know I am going to fall apart when he finally passes away. I love that dog, but he is also a tangible reminder. He snuggled with his "daddy" every night and they would fall asleep in the recliner together. I put him on the bed with my husband's body after he died, and the dog never looked for him after that. I have warned my family that they better keep an eye on me when that dog dies.

  4. I have a pair of jeans w/ holes in them and a sweatshirt in my closet that makes me tear up, even after 4 years, because I can remember loving the smell of him when he wore them but I can't remember the smell. The cat he brought home and the dog he just had to have are getting old and I am dreading losing them too. I have a few boxes of things packed up that I may or may not ever look at again and a note framed on my night stand from him telling me how strong he thought I was. I totally understand.

  5. I still have 3 pairs of shoes. i have the i love to fish coffee cup, one child keeps his blue button down shirt in her closet. She also won't throw away or give away dresses that she wore with her dad. thank you for putting this out there. combined with listening to the new Enya song, i'm a puddle. but it's ok, it's good to get this out.

  6. I have the bag of clothes - Tshirt, flannel shirt, sweat pants, socks, and mocassins - that he would have worn when he came home from the hospital. They are still in the duffle bag and yes I moved them to the hall closet of my new home. He never made it. It's been 2 1/2 years.

  7. It was especially hard to clean out the garage - a huge mechanic's garage. When it came time to clean off the counters and put bolts into cans I was horrified that I was mixing them together, that he had set them into old pie tins based on which bolts went with which project. I cried for days over the guilt.

  8. It makes perfect sense to me (and somehow my eyes are leaking just reading this). When I moved house and had to pack and sort our whole life 'together' without him, certain items just had to stay. They mean nothing to anyone else, but mean the world to me.....

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