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Leave Mama's Junk Alone

By Barbara Morris

A young friend (about age 30) and I (age 75) were talking about all the "junk" we collect over time. The conversation turned to how much "junk" her mother had, and I said I understood because by the time you reach my age, even if you are not a chronic pack rat, "junk" accumulates. My lame excuse for saving things is that I work full time and deciding what to get rid of is not a priority. Another justification is that I grew up during the Great Depression, always wanting "things" of my own -- and now I've got them. Get rid of them? You're kidding!

The conversation with my young friend shifted to her brother still living at home. He needed more space in the garage for his car, and Mama's "junk" was taking up more space than he deemed necessary, so he threw some of it out when Mama was not at home. "She'll never miss it," he rationalized.

It appears that more than a few adult children feel the same way. On several occasions my Boomer-age daughter, who doesn't live with or near me, and should not be bothered by my junk, has suggested, "Why don't you get rid of all this stuff."

What should it matter to adult children, living in their own home with junk of their own, how much stuff you collect? After you are gone, they can back up a garbage truck to the garage, and get rid of it. On the other hand, if they are smart, they will hold on to the treasures, or have a garage sale. Some of the stuff my generation has been saving from "day one" now has antique status and may have value, perhaps not to unappreciative children, but to savvy collectors.

Let me explain something to adult children about old people, i.e., their parents: If retired, there probably are no more long or even short term goals, no more exciting dreams or aspirations -- nothing to strive for. Life is lived as a pastime -- golf, gardening, travel, shopping. "Remember when" is an integral part of a typical retiree's conversation. And that's okay.

Those scraps of material Mama has been saving that you think she doesn't need and won't miss are tangible evidence of a happy time that can be revisited by touching or seeing those pieces of cloth. It gives her a warm and fuzzy feeling when emotional warmth may be in short supply.

Until there is a good reason to do otherwise, leave Mama alone with all her junk. It's not yours to dispose of until she dies or asks you to get rid of it. You would not be happy if she came into your home while you were away and threw out what she considered "junk." After all, you are at an age when you've already collected a few useless trinkets that have great meaning to you but would be rated "junk" by others.

What goes around comes around. Respect rights of others, especially your parents. Your young children will learn from your good example and if you are lucky, they will not throw out your precious "junk" behind your back when you are old.

Barbara Morris, R.Ph. is a practicing pharmacist and expert on anti-aging strategies. She is the author  of Put Old on Hold. Visit her website


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Category:  Cleaning

Related Links:  | CleaningClutter Control |

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