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?
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