Just before we went away, my husband and I cleared out my Mum's small home. I found it quite difficult emotionally, as I am sure many of you can relate to. I was very fortunate because my Mother was a minimalist, and she lived in a very small apartment with only what she needed.
That said it was still a big job, wiht lots of things to go this way and that, and some tricky decisions about what to keep. I have been a follower of Joshua Becker's ''becoming minimalist' blog for some time. After clearing Mum's home I was both surprised and reassured to read his blog related to decluttering sentimental items.
He cites a simple phrase by one of his audience members which I find profoundly helpful. A woman in his audience said 'when it comes to minimising items with sentimental memories attached, my philosophy has been to adopt an 'only the best strategy'. This involves keeping an item or few items that represent a memory we desire to remember.
Unconsciously I had done this with my Mother's things and avoided the bringing home boxes of things that would have been stored in the roof and probably never looked at again. I decided to keep things that I could use or have out that reminded me of Mum or a treasured time. So I kept items that were most representative of Mum's life! These included........
A Hummel figurine
Mum had collected these handmade German Hummel figurines for many years. I must admit our family did not share her love of these statues displayed on masse in her living room. However, I had great fun carefully selecting one for each of the family and giving them or posting them to them all prior to her funeral. I had fun linking an association with the figurines. The one I selected pictured above gives me great joy and is a lovely memory of Mum.
Ernie the garden gnome stool
My Mother's Father was named Ernie and he loved garden gnomes. He himself somewhat resembled a garden gnome as he was extremely short and bald. He had many gnomes in his front garden in Geelong. I found this garden gnome stool (pictured above) a few years ago. It reminded me of Ernie and so I bought it. Whenever I looked at his beaming face I felt happy.
I decided to lend the gnome to my Mother and he sat by her couch. The idea was she would have Ernie smiling away at her to cheer her up. I decided to bring Ernie into the hospital when Mum was approaching the end of her life. I covered him in a jumper to avoid suspicion and smuggled him into the Alfred. There he bought lots of curiosity, fun and happiness to us all.
Ernie also came along to Mum's funeral - he supported the photos of Mum and beamed his smile at us all. I now have Ernie at home with me bringing lots of joy and happy memories. I am reminded though that happiness is an inside job, and our responsibility. We create our own happiness by bringing happiness to others. No one has the power to make someone happy - not even Ernie.
Woollens and POM embroidered things
I used to gift my Mother a piece of clothing each birthday or Mother's day. She always took extra care of them so when I went through her clothes they were like new. I decided to keep a couple of items. I love wearing them as they remind me of her in happy times. I gave Mum POM embroidered tea towels, washcloths and handkerchiefs over the years - they mostly say 'love you Mum' - I am also enjoying using these.
So I can look around now and see reminders of Mum. Keeping these things and using or seeing them daily keeps the happy memories alive.
I am mindful that not all of us would be able to find this an easy thing to do. No judgment is necessary, we are all different! I am just sharing what I find useful, maybe you may too.
Joshua has some tips that may help when it is difficult to part with sentimental things.
1. Halving boxes of sentimental items. Halve every two boxes to one.
2. Take photos
Joshua reminds us our memories are not in the object, they are in us, so a photo might serve the same purpose as the object.
3. Give it life again
We sent lots of Mum's things to the OP shop. We did the same with my Dad's things. A very happy memory I have is hearing of my brother taking Dad's model cars (in their original boxes) to the OP shop in Tasmania. As my brother was returning to the car he saw a family coming out of the shop - the boys were excitedly carrying the boxed model cars. I like to think of people enjoying Mum's furniture and things too.
4. Remind yourself what brings meaning in your life
Joshua reminds us 'Unfortunately too often, the physical possessions we accumulate in our lives keep us from creating more of the memories that bring joy and meaning into our life, the people around us and the experiences we share, and the accomplishments of growth and achievement.
He encourages us to 'lighten your load. Unburden your life. And go create more moments of relationship, adventure and accomplishment.' And 'you'll never reach for anything new if you are too busy holding on to yesterday's things. Keep only the best'.
With love, appreciation and very best well wishes to us all