I know it’s coming but I hope not too soon.
I’m talking about that time when I will have to downsize. Inevitably. Move to a smaller home, or maybe an apartment.
What got me thinking about this was an old lady I met who told me about her mink coat. By old, I mean 90-something. By mink coat, I mean full-length politically incorrect coat that she can’t wear anymore because she’s shrunk so much it drags on the floor, and she now lives in a climate so warm that she’d melt under its weight even in January.
She showed me the coat and told me how proud her late husband had been to be able to save enough to finally buy it for her. I couldn’t help but think about what the coat must have actually cost the family if it was so hard for them to afford it. But she loved having that coat and she loves it still. Even though all it ever does now is catch dust in her closet.
And I thought about how many useless possessions I’ve acquired in my life. Items I love that no one else will care about when I’m gone. Do I really love them? Are they really important? Were they ever? Some day I will have to cut back. On something. And where will I start? And stop?
This is not meant to be a sad story. By realizing that I may need to move on to smaller digs, I’ve come to really appreciate what I have now. To savor the view of the mountains on my daily walk. To think about the things I have: How much do I love them? Could they maybe serve a better purpose if I pass them on to someone else? Now. Or in a year or two, after I’ve loved them for a while longer. I’m less inclined to take what I have for granted. I know how lucky I am. And when I find a sweater I haven’t worn for five years I no longer think that maybe I’ll wear it some day. I think: someone can use this now. I can give a gift that costs me nothing and would mean a lot to someone else.
Maybe this is part of growing up. Or growing old. However you want to look at it. But it makes me more happy than sad. It’s a good new chapter.
Norma Libman is a journalist and lecturer who has been collecting women’s stories for more than twenty years. You can read the first chapter of her award-winning book, Lonely River Village, at NormaLibman.com.