Day #53: The Glands – “Living Was Easy”
This weekend, I attended the farewell party of a friend who is moving to Boston next week. (As those in our grad school program who have stayed in DC say… another one bites the dust). He showed us photos on his phone of some of the furniture and other decor that he’ll be moving out to the new apartment. A woven wall covering and a red couch the length of a room. He inherited these things from the house that his grandparents recently had to give up as they entered an assisted living residence. Some things the family doesn’t know what to do with. His grandmother has a gigantic marble slab that sat atop a china hutch, but that will be expensive to move, is probably too heavy for anything newer to support its weight, and is such an odd thing that no one knows what to really do with it, anyways, other than to display a nice-looking marble slab.
We are all at that point now where we are one generation removed from lots of stuff that we can’t seem to make use of anymore. “My mom tries to hand off antiques to me,” one of the other guests said. “Now she gives them to me as Christmas gifts.” We all laughed. My grandma was recently given a lot of things from a cousin that died about two years ago. There were loads of old fashioned handbags and silverware and clothes. A lot of things that had never even been touched. Tom already acquired things from his friend who entered a nursing home without any surviving family to pass her belongings on. When the question comes up about what we do with all this stuff, the answer inevitably lands on asking whether or not I’d want any of it. I claimed a few things during one of my visits home last year, knowing that I’d have a fight for bringing more things back with me as we try to purge a lot of things we already have. But, I would feel terrible if these things wound up sitting, unappreciated, on the shelves of a thrift store somewhere. I took several sets of linen napkins that were hand embroidered. No one ever used them. I don’t know what I will wind up doing with them. I’d feel guilty if anything even stained them!
Someone else at the party mentioned that their grandparents had some China sitting around. “What do you even do with China?!” he asked. My grandma has her wedding China sitting in the breakfront of our dining room. A complete set that just seems best suited for display. Never eating. Sometimes it’s not even that there’s no use, but that you just don’t need whatever it is. The McDs posted Facebook photos of things they found while cleaning out their parents’ house last year. I remember one in particular that showed several old coffee percolators. What do you do with one, much less three?! What will become of all the glut of all of these things our family members felt compelled to acquire over time?
There is one thing I told grandma that if she ever wanted to get rid of, I would gladly accept: old furniture. Tacky as some things might look in the modern home, it’s comforting to know that we’d own things that were built to last.