Saturday, April 03, 2010

Throwing Away Dead People's Gifts and Stuff

I have a small pot/kettle/saucepan ( I really don't know what the correct name is) that has some problems. Among other things, the handle is really wobbly; it's a risky thing to carry it from sink to stove when it contains any amount of water. I wonder when I should end its life. But I don't really want to end its life. It was a wedding gift from Mrs. Eileen Sandford and I feel like throwing it away would somehow be losing a link to an amazing lady who I admired and loved. And at the same time, that pot/kettle/saucepan always makes me feel a little guilty, because she fell and hurt herself as she was getting ready for our wedding, ( I wonder if I am remembering correctly that it was as she was getting something to wrap this very gift) and passed away several days later. We didn't hear about it until the day we got home from our honeymoon, which was the day of her funeral. ( This was in the long ago dark ages before Facebook.)

I have always regretted missing her funeral and, truth be told, I've always felt partially responsible for her death, in a strange way. Which is really awful because that lady was a saint. I appreciated her genuineness. She was a woman without fear, without guile, and with plenty of feist. Okay, so maybe feist isn't a word - but why not - when feisty IS a word.

So, when we arrived home from our honeymoon and found that this pot/kettle/saucepan had somehow made its way onto our kitchen table, unwrapped, because she never got a chance to wrap it, with a note inside, from her, it was a startling discovery. An eerie, but useful, gift. For a long time, it was my only small pot/kettle/saucepan and I depended on it heavily. So, even though its working days are nearly over, I am hesitant to get rid of this thing. Who knew that such a small pot/kettle/saucepan could hold such memories?

And it's the same with my bathrobe that Andrew gave me for Christmas one year...This bathrobe is distinctly ratty now, but I don't think I could ever throw it away.

I am going through Grampa's things these days, throwing things away ( don't worry- nothing valuable - I don't think anyone really cares about long johns that are forty years old), sorting through other things, making a yardsale pile, and a keep- for-posterity pile. But mostly it's throwing things out. To tell the truth, there are certain items that I have fantasized about throwing away in recent years. But when it came down to throwing away some of his old shirts the other day, it was an odd, bittersweet moment. It just sort of felt a little wrong.

I know that things are just things - they're not the same as people. But I have a strong sentimental streak in me, and I do get very attached to things, especially when the person the thing is associated with is no longer alive.

So - to throw, or not to throw - that is the dilemma.

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