By Larry Beahan
Last week our neighbor on one side of us died. A month ago the widow on the other side of us died. We have lived here since 1963. That is more than half a century. We watched their kids grow up. Their kids were our kids’ playmates. Now the kids are gone and our old friends, the neighbors are gone, too. How is that possible?
Then a big yellow dumpster appeared in front of the house on our right. Lyn and I watched from our side window as three strangers tramped in and out of that house hauling lamps, boxes and chairs. My son saw a Lego set he and their son had built castles out of thrown over the top into the dumpster, headed for a landfill.
What will happen to my skis, my computer, my files of rejected stories and My View columns, all of which I think are still useful? What about that unique egg slicer of ours and the irreplaceable carving knife my tool-and-die-maker uncle made as “government work” when he was an apprentice at Curtiss Wright or the spent shell my dad picked up near his boyhood home on Pine Plains before it became Fort Drum? Their history will be forgotten.
Then Lyn said, “You know it was a strange and wonderful thing to visit my brother in Columbus after Mom died. We went around to each of his kids’ houses and each one of them had a room that felt like visiting her house. They had driven to Buffalo in trucks and carried her furniture home with them.”
Then we both remembered how our house is furnished. The kitchen table and chairs came from her parents’ house when we were first married, as well as the twin beds. The bedroom set in our spare bedroom was mine growing up at home. We have my mother’s Sykes dining room set bought at a discount when Lyn’s mother worked for Sykes. Our other bedroom has the heavy duty mahogany settee that once graced Lyn’s grandparents’ front parlor in the very early 1900s.
So maybe there is life again for some of our stuff … maybe even for us.
Which raises the question, should we stay in this big old house with its three flights of stairs, basement to attic, and full of our precious “junk?” We have appointments to look at and are seriously considering Canterbury Woods and Fox Run. They advertise like they are some kind of heaven, with swimming pools, gourmet meals served to you, maid service, entertainment, companionship, “Life Care,” even a nursing home. But no place for our stuff in their tiny apartments. Where will I put my canoe? How about my snow blower? Oh, that’s right; someone else will blow the snow for us.
Lyn says, “What will I do? It's OK with me if they do the mopping and dusting but if they feed us, that’s my job. I like to shop and cook.” Then she took a look around my office and threw up her hands, “The stuff in this room will fill an apartment at Canterbury; we will need two or three.”
Maybe we should dispose of this stuff ourselves, instead of consigning it to the dumpster. After our final use of it is done, how about inviting the family to drive their trucks here and we will try to talk them into throwing out some of their stuff and furnishing a room with ours. Or maybe we should get on the internet and make use of this eBay thing I keep hearing about, sell it all, make a fortune and live out whatever time is left to us in a hotel in Cannes, attending movie festivals instead of in a purgatory of “Life Care.”
Larry Beahan, of Amherst, is trying to find if there is an upside to downsizing.