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Go ahead and admit it. You and I have stuff squirreled away in closets, attics, or basements. It may be decades since you dealt with your stuff. This is especially true if you haven’t moved in a few years and were forced to touch all these things.
Every month I pay a rental fee for two—count them, two—climate-controlled storage units because there isn’t room in our house to store what’s in them. And what exactly is in these units? Actually, I’m not sure and I don’t know if I really want to know.
As of the time of this writing, my older sister, Ruth, is 82. It’s a long story, but my relationship with this sister is special.
In any case, Ruth and I recently talked about downsizing stuff in preparation for our last breath. Like many women her age, Ruth has some expensive collections, including two glass-doored cabinets full of priceless (at least to her) cut-glass figurines.
When she and her three grown children recently talked about these treasures, and everything else in Ruth and Stan’s home, one of their sons said simply this: “You’ve seen those huge dumpsters, Mom? The ones they winch up on the back of an 18-wheeler? Well, when you’re gone, we’re putting one of those in your driveway.”
I have seen the way Ruth treats her crystal. It takes her forever to dust them, one delicate creature at a time. Imagine these treasures being tossed into a trash dumpster. The same is likely true for you. Your kids and grandkids probably don’t want your stuff.
Even though this may sound incredibly cruel, it’s not. It’s true. It’s reality. You and I have things squirreled away in closets, attics, or basements. In fact, every month I pay a rental fee for two—count them—two climate-controlled storage units because there isn’t room in our house for this stuff. What exactly is in these units? Actually, I’m not sure, but probably in an effort to not have to deal with what’s there, I faithfully pay the storage fee.
My wife and I have had this conversation with a few folks our age. One friend, in particular, has an amazing collection of Hummel figurines. “Hundreds of them,” she says. And she whines that her children and grandchildren have no interest. None. Her kids and grandkids don’t want her collection.
A question for you and me: Have we embraced the fact that when we die, most of what we have will be forgotten? Completely ignored? We have no choice in this. It will happen. No one wants our stuff.
Before you and I die, when it will be too late to purge our histories, to clean out the attic and garage. The time we take now to get this done will provide our loved ones with more peace than we can imagine.
This is all part of the process of our journey. It’s the discipline of admitting that there’s a lot more sand below the pinch in our hourglass than above it. Moses, Israel’s earthly redeemer, encouraged us in the book of Psalms to get serious about this reality when he wrote, “Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom” (90:12).
“Numbering our days” means that we know about the finish line and embrace our approach to it. That “heart of wisdom” may need to include saving our survivors the backbreaking and frustrating hassle of making a decision about our “extra” things. Start purging now.
Your kids and grandkids love you, but they likely don’t love—or want—your stuff. Toss it or donate it. Do it soon. They will thank you.