My step father passed away on December 27, 2019. He and my mother had lived together for thirty years. They weren’t pack rats, and they were fairly organized and clean. For the past few months I’ve watched (and sometimes helped) my mother give away and throw away their possessions in order to downsize. I helped my mother buy a one bedroom condo, which is closer in proximity to my sister and me. Then two weeks ago, we helped her move the possessions she wanted to keep into the new condo. Last weekend, she decided she wanted to put her house on the market by the end of the week, and yesterday it was listed.
For five days we spring cleaned, painted, posted items on the “letgo” app, gave items to their new owners, and filled up a 15 yard dumpster. Then on the sixth and seventh days, I rested. Today, I’m thinking about the whole experience.
Letting go of a home you lived in for forty years as you grieve the loss of your spouse is my mother’s story. Saying good-bye to my childhood home and remembering my step father and my grandparents, who also have passed away, and who were a big part of my life back then, is my story; but not where I’m going with this today. I’m pondering the downsizing of material possessions.
Those who know me well, know that this is a big topic of interest for me. Decluttering, purging stuff, minimalism, voluntary poverty, and downsizing… they are all related in my mind. And now I have this fresh, first-hand experience (not my own) of answering the questions: What do I want? What do I need? What am I willing to let go of?
It’s hard not to notice the fact that I will one day go through this downsizing myself, or if I die first, my family will be throwing out and giving away my possessions. So why am I keeping things that I do not use on a regular basis? It motivates me to do another pass through my home with the eyes of a downsizer.
Imagine you are moving into a tiny one bedroom home next week. It has a small living room, kitchen, bathroom, and very little extra storage. What would you take with you? What are your favorite things? What do you use all the time? What is most important?
This will not help me to get rid of any of my husband’s or my children’s belongings. And I will, of course, need to keep many extra articles of furniture and shared items in the common areas. But let’s see how this experiment will affect my own stash of personal belongings. Results will be the subject of a future post.