Wednesday, April 10, 2013
Dealing with Our Stuff
The American People's Encyclopedia occupied a prominent position in my parent's home for fifty years. Purchased volume by volume from Sears, they represented more than my parent's prayer for our future. They meant my parents had enough money to provide for us what they never had. The books gave them a certain gravitas, proclaimed them adult members of the middle class. They meant my sister and I were to have a college education, that we would never have to face years of unemployment as my father had, and though we were only six and eleven when they arrived, we knew these serious looking books meant business.
Sixty-three years later, those volumes bought with savings and great hopes, those volumes which had a place of honor in my own living room, were dumped on the floor in my home. Have I ever looked at them in all the time they lived with me? In this day of Wikipedia and instant online sources for all you want to know, these volumes speak of another time. Saying good-bye isn't so easy. Even though my parents were very practical people, I feel I need to apologize to them, thank them, honor their hopes so fully realized.
No matter how important our stuff is to us, how freighted with history and personal weight, our kids don't want much of it. By the time my parents died, my sister and I had overstuffed homes. Now our kids do too. My son has told me he doesn't want any of it: not my grandmother's wedding plates and glasses we used and they used on special occasions when we were all growing up, not the sterling silver in the same box I played with as a child, and knew one day would be mine.
So what do we do with the stuff we carry, the stuff we box and store, the stuff we think is so important or simply can't figure out what to do with? These encyclopedias will be upcycled to art pieces. What would my father think? Better than going to the dump I say. No one wants mid century encyclopedias any more. I'll save one remnant: "Anatomy of the Human Body, 12 transparent plates showing the internal organs in natural color." They always fascinated me, and though you can see through page to page from boney structures of the chest to intestines to the scrotum, though you can see front sides and back sides, I still can't see and couldn't then see the very thing I looked for: what little girls are made of and why aren't my reproductive organs even mentioned?
Baruch ata adonai...I am so thankful to my parents for wanting so much for me and doing so much to make that happen. Thank you for placing me in their arms. I will create an art piece in their honor so that this book and their intentions for me live on. I like thinking about that. Amen