Friday, May 6, 2016

About The Art of Letting Go

Twenty-one days.

Three Weeks.

That's all that remain before my parents close on their new home.

No doubt it's an exciting time for them. But it's a stressful time, as well.

It's not an easy task to sift through 50 years of belongings in a little over a month. Not when nearly every item they own has a memory attached to it.

Two weeks ago, my sisters and I tore through the lofts in the double-car garage in an effort to help them clean up. On one side, my dad kept his finished and unfinished woodworking projects. The other side held a treasure trove of toys and games from our childhood, as well as mismatched wooden chairs from my long-deceased grandmother's dining room.

At one point, my sister pulled out a broken trinket from the past and hesitated over what to do with it.

Without a second thought, her husband said, "Pitch it."

When she continued to hesitate, he added, "You'll always have the memory. You don't need to hold onto broken things."

His words stuck with me. For the past two weeks, I've given a lot of thought to what he said in relation to the need so many people -- including myself -- have to hold onto physical objects.

To complicate those thoughts, I've tried to reconcile my dad's desire to take nearly every scrap of wood from his woodshop with him.

How can one square block be so ridiculously valuable? 

Then again, how can you put a price tag on memories and dreams? Isn't that what we're talking about?

A broken toy, a mismatched chair, an empty can of Prince Albert tobacco.

Each of those items had a childhood memory attached to it, one that conjured an image of playing Little Peoples outside in the summer time, the taste of Grandma's Shur-fine soda and homemade fried chicken, and the smell of my dad's pipe from way back in his smoking days.

Each of those items made those memories tangible, allowed us to hold a physical piece of that precious moment in time once again the palms of our hands.

And I don't think it's that much difference for my dad and his scraps of wood.

He's a woodcarver and a woodworker. When he looks at a piece of wood, he doesn't see a block of oak or maple or walnut or pine. He sees what it could be, a tangible piece of a dream.

It's pretty hard to put a price on that. Even if it doesn't look like much.

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Kathryn Harris is an award-winning journalist, professional whiner and author of the contemporary not-nearly-enough-smut-for-today's-horndog-readers novel "The Long Road to Heaven." 

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