I’ve gotten to that age where I’m going to more funerals than I once did. It makes you think, doesn’t it? When you’re young, you think you’ll live forever. But if you’re lucky enough to hang around for a few decades, you realize the clock is ticking.
Occasionally, I look around at my accumulated stuff and wonder: is this what I’m leaving my kids to sort through? After I’m gone, will they roll their eyes, and say, “What are we supposed to do with this stuff?” So I set out do a better job of weeding out.
One recent rainy day, I started going through the drawers, boxes and closets that rarely get opened.
This is what I learned. On the plus side, my sons will have plenty of pens, paper clips, and rubber bands. If they ever open an office supply store, they will have a huge opening day inventory.
Or they could go into the restaurant business. Evidently, I have never discarded a packet of ketchup, mayonnaise, or mustard. I don’t know if those condiment packs stay fresh forever, but I’m pretty sure I’ve tested the limits.
How many screwdrivers, hammers, and wrenches does a person need? If my household is any indication, one should be within reach, at all times. Yet, they somehow disappear when I actually need one. Why else would I keep buying new ones?
I’m also well-stocked on umbrellas, sunglasses, and scissors. I have left umbrellas and sunglasses at stores and ballfields throughout the south, so I’m always re-stocking. Scissors? That one’s a mystery. Maybe they just walk away.
I never seem to have nail clippers when a fingernail emergency occurs. You can imagine my frustration when I was preparing to trade in a car, and during the cleaning-out process, I found a small mountain of nail clippers in the glove compartment. What knucklehead stashed them all in there? Oh. Never mind…
I have receipts and owner’s manuals from appliances that were hauled off years ago. Why did I save them? Did I think Whirlpool would call me in 2018, telling me that my 1984 washer was being recalled?
If something happened to me today, my sons would also inherit exactly 63 unmatched socks. I firmly believe that after I’m gone, these socks will return to their rightful mates, laughing all the way. “We tortured that old fool for years,” they would say. “How could he not know we were collecting dust under the sofa?”
Meanwhile, my closets runneth over. Hanger upon hanger, slumping with coats and jackets from a couple of sizes ago. No doubt, I could have moved into Buckingham Palace, and still would have run out of closet space.
Then there’s the card drawer. Yes, all kinds of cards. Old greeting cards, store rewards cards. My KZ-106 Gold Card. Blockbuster, if you ever make a comeback, I still have my card. I also have spare credit cards, with expiration dates that say 08/1996.
If my sons go through my medicine cabinet, they will probably wonder why there are pills in bottles from the Red Food pharmacy. This might make a good science experiment.
I also have impressive collections of old tennis balls, twist ties, and lounge chairs. I always bought those chairs on vacation, brought them home, and would forget to take them on the next vacation.
I should be ashamed of that big box full of VCR cables, extension cords, phone connection cords, and male/female adaptors. I can connect and adapt any electrical gadget built before 1990. For some reason, there isn’t much demand for that now.
And who thought vinyl records would make a comeback? They have recently increased in value, but I got rid of many of them long ago. Oh, and I wish someone had told me baseball cards might be valuable someday. Instead, I opted to keep my TV Guide collection. You don’t see many TV Guide autograph shows, do you?
Why have I kept all this unnecessary stuff, taking up so much valuable space? It may date back to the family store. Every few years, the oil companies and the soft drink bottlers would change out their signs and logos. Esso became Exxon, and we’d toss out the old sign. Dr. Pepper and RC would update their look to a more modern style. The outdated signs were tossed into the trash heap. How much are those old signs worth today? I really don’t want to know.
I guess I’ll hang on to my old stuff as long as there’s somewhere to stash it. Every now and then, I’ll run across an old newspaper clipping. I saved it because it meant something to me. I hope that someday your kids will find one of my columns in your junk drawer. Somewhere I’ll be smiling about that.