Updated: Jul 10
Don’t get me wrong. I like to hold on to things that have some sentimental value, like my Milwaukee Railroad time table for western Minnesota and South Dakota from 1962, the last summer I worked there. I love having the telephone from our old farm house. It is a wall-mounted behemoth powered by batteries and operated by cranking to call the operator. But at the same time, I recognize that I need to get rid of some things.
A few months ago I sold my 1947 Conn trombone, the used instrument my parents bought for me around 1953 and which I played for several years in band. Besides that, I sold the 1946 edition of Monopoly I got for Christmas sometime around 1948-49. Both items went to collectors. They didn’t bring much money, but at least they will be in good hands for a while and valued.
A large framed picture of our farm, the barn and the house where I was born, taken the summer of 1914, showing my grandparents and my father and his two little brothers sitting on the porch has been in my possession for decades. I love it, but last summer I gave it to someone in the next generation, a cousin’s son. It had hung in our living room a long time. Besides that, we had the framed wedding certificate, a large elaborate document, of my grandparents who were married March 14, 1900, showing the signatures of each of their fathers, who served as witnesses. It had hung in our bedroom for decades, but it was time for it to go on to another first cousin once removed in Minnesota. I did have quality photos made of each of these pieces of family history, in case I want to make a duplicate. But it was time to let them go.
From time to time, I let our children and grandchildren know about other items we have, to ask if they would want them after we are gone. Their responses are added to a list for that time when we either move to a smaller residence, or will have gone on beyond “to a better place.”
Why are we doing this? It’s a practical thing. We have seen some other instances where someone leaves a residence full of things behind, and it’s almost impossible for their family to sort it out and recognize what is of value. One time I came into possession of a painting by Hal Foster, a famous illustrator and the originator of both the Tarzan comic and the Prince Valiant epic adventure strip. I came to own it only because his family overlooked it when he died. A friend of mine happened to attend an auction at Foster’s
residence in Florida after his death. Near the end of the auction this painting was found behind a sofa. My friend bought it for twenty dollars, and gave it to me a decade later when he learned I was a fan of Foster’s work. Many years later yet, I gave it to a granddaughter of Hal Foster after a researcher connected us. She was thrilled.
I find there is a wonderful payoff for this letting go of things. It’s really a pleasure to see someone else happily receive these old things, or for them to know we are planning to give them these things a little later. I should have known this would be a pleasure. Jesus did say, “It is better to give than to receive.” [Acts 20:35] I have to learn it over and over again. So I’m going to try to let go of more of the old things in my life, little by little. Today is the end of 2022. Some things we will let go of, for sure, whether we like it or not.
© 2022 Stanley Hagemeyer