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Downside of downsizing |

Downside of downsizing

This is a long-winded tale in search of two custom-made coffee mugs emblazoned with “THE GOLDEN HOUR.”

Perhaps most regular readers (up to four now) know that my beloved wife passed away early last year. We had long enjoyed a good life and reasonably good health. Our future was out there and we saw a sunrise to indicate another day of indeterminate years. Looking back, our problems probably began to surface in 2014. I now know we should have recognized and reacted to early warnings.

We had aging plans in place, but all were predicated on our continued well-being. As a matter of fact and reality, our spur-of-the-moment trips were declining and our diet was healthier. A series of falls and other medical/physical issues caused us to re-evaluate our pleasant peasant lifestyle. Indeed, a rather severe fall (two surgeries) forced and caused me to rely on a Rollator for some time.

As reasonably intelligent adults, we made plans to sell our home of some 33-plus years and face inevitable downsizing. We proceeded to take positive action. We listed our house with a real estate agent and it sold within four days. Truly, that was not expected. Our limited knowledge of local real estate led us to believe it could have been weeks or even months. We were not really ready for this fast action.

The “DOWN” adventures began. Henceforth in this piece, my audience should read and heed. I admit my recently acquired knowledge may be tempered by adversity, but there are lessons that may be of value down your road in a few months or years. It should or could be considered as a friendly warning, words from your nearby neighbor, know-it-all-office expert, advice from a Dutch uncle, or a subtle warning of what to avoid.

The house was a bit over 2,000 square feet and the apartment was barely 1,000. Obviously something had to give. Space forced literally thousands of major and minor decisions. Some furniture was discarded and given to the COME Center and Good Shepherd Mission. Personal pictures were mostly discarded.

Without a local buyer, valuable artwork was sold in Houston. Clothes, such as slacks, dresses, formals, shoes, scarves, gloves, plus men’s clothing (shirts, ties, sweaters and slacks, etc.) were rather rapidly stacked in big boxes and unceremoniously, i.e. with a most limited inventory, awarded to Good Shepherd Mission and SAAFE House. This maw of frenzied activity continued and fueled by offspring with little time produced most interesting results.

My condition prevented me from controlling these activities. Would it have been different? Probably yes, but realistically, I am not so certain. All were operating on verbal instructions; some of which were understood or omitted. For example, a collection of coffee mugs used for entertaining was donated, and this included among some others, our “GOLDEN HOUR” mugs. Gone, too, was genealogy history lines dating back to Holland or Netherlands in the 1700s.

Probably the finest collection of baby pictures and wide collection of report cards from a number of elementary, junior and senior high schools deserved a box of their own, but were dumped on a box bottom to cushion the fall of framed family pictures. As parents who had accumulated decades of these items over several decades, (family and ancestor memorabilia) we were appalled at all casual decisions to trash.

This feeling of rejection could have been assuaged somewhat if these items had first been examined, but no, the path from storage to discard was not interrupted by sentiment or nostalgia. As your hackles rise in defense of your offspring, know that some or most of this activity has also been reported/repeated to me from several families.

A few years ago, plastic dinnerware and “order out” replaced sterling silver, Lenox china and crystal. Now, the pendulum is beginning to swing back. Any undiscriminating activity for ridding family of valuable “stuff” cannot be acceptable. Sentiment and intrinsic items have value in the family.

One example would include purchased tiles, original artwork by friends or family, wall hangings, and of course “GOLDEN HOUR” mugs. When one spouse passes away, it would not be unreasonable to presume or assume the survivor would prefer to be surrounded by past glories, delightful memories, recollections of a wonderful marriage and life. 

“GOLDEN HOUR” mugs recalled a now defunct restaurant with delightful times sharing completed wonderful breakfasts and being together.

There can be no tried-and-true formula or cookbook for avoiding these opportunities of change. I would say, and even that with extreme caution, this entire family environment can be most trying for producing an equitable solution to all concerned. At this point, you should be must be aware of rewards and pitfalls for your well-being.

May peace be with all of you.

Grady is an avid observer of his environment.

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