The Impermanence of Stuff

I went home to Ohio for a few days to be with my family and help go through my grandma's things. Let me say now, I love my grandma dearly. VERY dearly. But all of her stuff is not her. And as one of my aunts put it, fairly kindly, if my grandparents had a smaller house, it would have been a hoarder house.

It is filled. Filled. FILLED. To the brim with things. To some extent, this is pretty cool, because it's a time capsule. She has things that none of us even know what they are. For example, what appears to be a wedding band. But it's not hers. I suggested that maybe it was her mother's or grandmothers. No one actually knows. It sits on the dresser still. It freaks me out a little, because it makes me wonder how important that was to her, and what will happen to the jewelry of hers I inherited when I die. Will it sit on the dresser and no one will know whose it was? That's a very sad thought.

That does, however, bring me to the impermanence of stuff. It can be the most valuable thing in the world to us, as one of my grandma's possessions I inherited is, but it will mean nothing to someone else. At most, a few dollars if it happens to be made of a precious metal. And many things, my grandma documented well. We have some photo albums with names, and years, and events, all kinds of great details. And then we have things like that wedding band.

Not my grandma, my great-grandma on the other side. As we were sorting through photos, I realized I didn't have any pictures of her, so I snagged this one to hold me for now.

It is painful to throw this stuff out. I see why she kept it. On the other hand, it reinforces to me that things are impermanent, and that I enjoy a relatively minimalist lifestyle. This is not a blog about minimalism - or is it at this point? Who the fuck knows, it's basically just stream of consciousness, I think - but all this completely unnecessary. We would have been thrilled with 10% of it. And I think we would have enjoyed it more, to have 10% that we could really pour over. The sheer volume of it all was overwhelming, and it was emotionally draining, and somewhat hurried. And there is more of it to be gone over for at least the next two family holidays, which is also somewhat of a damper as I look ahead to those events. I would love to be able to honor my grandma properly by going over everything in detail, but there's just too many things.

I am motivated now to go back and write notes in the few photo albums I have, and to clear out everything not completely necessary. It's interesting to think that when I die, most of what I have will be digital, and all I'll need to do is leave a sheet of passwords for someone to find. There is still a lot for me to process surrounding all the recent events. I'll leave it at that for this evening. 


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