Today's 'Family Matters' column is a bit stuffy

This summer, I've made a resolution. I'm going to get rid of a lot of "stuff." What, exactly, is "stuff?" Well, a house can be divided into two categories: stuff and space. Space is the area that people walk around in. Stuff is the rest of it everything from furniture to books to papers to piles of miscellaneous items. Space is what allows a person to move comfortably around. Stuff is what takes up precious space.
Norwalk Reflector Staff
Jul 25, 2010

This summer, I've made a resolution. I'm going to get rid of a lot of "stuff."

What, exactly, is "stuff?" Well, a house can be divided into two categories: stuff and space. Space is the area that people walk around in. Stuff is the rest of it everything from furniture to books to papers to piles of miscellaneous items. Space is what allows a person to move comfortably around. Stuff is what takes up precious space.

Some stuff in life is necessary, but a lot of it is not. A lot of stuff sits around, unused, waiting for the moment when it might possibly be used. That moment almost never comes.

I am frustrated by stuff. Although school is officially over, and that means I am on vacation, I have so far spent a lot of this "vacation" dealing with stuff. My daughter moved her stuff from her dorm in Columbus to our living room in Norwalk for a week. She sorted through this stuff, and moved the stuff she didn't need this summer into her bedroom. The rest of her stuff sat in the living room until the following weekend, when we moved it back to Columbus, to an apartment she is renting for the summer. Granted, a person needs stuff. But carrying stuff from the house to the car, and then from the car to an apartment, in 90-degree heat, is not fun. It is hard on one's back. It makes one wonder how much stuff is really necessary.

People come in two classifications: those who keep stuff and those who get rid of it. At Norwalk High School, at the end of every year, we have locker clean-out. This year, it included recycling of usable paper, notebooks, etc. Some students are very eager to get rid of their stuff even the stuff they might still need to study for exams. Other students like to keep their stuff. They carefully ask the teacher what they need to keep.

Getting rid of stuff is hard for me. Apparently it is hard for my mother, too. There may be a gene which determines a person's need to hold on to stuff. If so, it runs in my family. On a recent visit to New Jersey, I spent a few days in my mother's home. My mother is not what she used to be. In fact, she spends a lot of time resting and she almost never cooks. This is the exact opposite of the mother I remember always cooking and never resting. Anyway, it meant that I cooked for her. And in an unfamiliar kitchen, one must forage through cupboards and cabinets and drawers to find pots, pans, plates, ingredients, etc. I found those, but I stumbled on some other things along the way reminders of my mother's changed life.

In a search for small plastic sandwich bags, in one cabinet I found shelves full of formal glassware sparkling wine glasses, water glasses, nicely lined up and put away for one of the big dinners she will probably never cook again. A rush of memories flooded through me, and a shiver of sadness at how uselessly those glasses sat there.

Continuing to search for plastic bags, I found hearing aid batteries not my mother's, because she doesn't wear a hearing aid, but my father's. He has been dead for more than a year. Again, a flood of memories this time, of my dad. I left the hearing aid batteries there.

Opening another cabinet, I found needles, testing strips, antiseptic wipes items for a diabetic who tests her blood sugar and takes insulin twice a day. This was much-needed stuff belonging to my mother. I left that stuff there, wishing she didn't need it.

Upon my return to Norwalk, I vowed to get rid of a lot of the stuff in my house. But first, I need to rest for a few days. And then, maybe it will be too hot. And then, what if I get rid of the wrong stuff the stuff I will actually need? No, getting rid of stuff is not an easy undertaking. I resolve to be brave and do it. Maybe.