Thursday, June 13, 2024



            “It’s only things.”


            As we are starting the process of downsizing to move out of our beloved Bark House into the Ann Arbor co-op, we try to reassure ourselves that the process will not take an emotional toll on us. So far we have been unsuccessful. “Things” can be important, emotionally, and in getting rid of them we pay a price.


            I say “we,” but it is Kim who is paying the biggest emotional price, for her “things” represent her artistic, loving, and very personal connection to the world. Her things include objects that belonged to her family – parents and grandparents. They include raw materials that she might someday use in her artistic creations. To name just a few – feathers, bark, fibers to make bird nests. They include an array of tools that she uses to create her art. They include collections that are part of who she is: collections of shells from Florida, Petoskey stones from here, bones, antlers, shark teeth, game pieces, clothes pins. They include files full of old photos and documents for use in the scrapbooks that are underway. She also has her box full of old scissors, for example, or wooden shoe lasts – we are keeping those, of course.


            Our new place is, quite simply, smaller. With her typical generosity she steered our selection of a new place toward where I would live when her cancer returns (her oncologist assures her that it will). As a result, she has no art room – only a small desk for her computer in the guest bedroom. My office on the third floor is just too many stairs away, and she sees the point of this enterprise is getting me squared away for the future. In getting rid of her art supplies, part of her is preparing to die.


            How do we “get rid of” the things that are part of our downsizing? Family members and friends will be selecting what they want when we move out, but they don’t have room for much. A few things we are just throwing away – a raggedy pair of my shoes, for example, or some weird clothing that has accumulated in my dresser. Paint samples – no, we are keeping those. Some of Kim’s nests made it into the fire pit. 


            We do take some things out to our garage sale, which is running most weekends when we are home and working in the yard. Clothes are fairly easy to move into the garage sale – we still have plenty from our years as snowbirds, with closets full in Michigan and Florida.  Very little clothing is being sold, however, but we can always donate clothes. I have a box full of old cables from previous television hook-ups, some of which may be useful in the new place, so I have been reluctant to take them to the garage sale, though I’ve taken a dozen out there. We’ve hauled out books that we know we will not read again, though we are keeping some just because the cover reminds us of a good read. Artwork? Kim has sold some in galleries, and it is discouraging the way customers only want to pay garage-sale-prices for work that is worth much more. It’s insulting. Still, some of her photographs have sold, and a few of her other creations. And people have been complimentary, even when they don’t buy.


            Furniture is, in a way, simpler. We love our Stickley Craftsman pieces, but we may not have room for all of them. We are taking some to Ann Arbor, and we may sell some with the house – when and if the house sells. We have some valuable vintage furniture, and people buying it with the house or at what is called “a living estate sale” probably won’t be willing to pay what it is worth. When the house sells we may put some pieces into storage until we figure out what to do with them. It may be hard for some people to conceive of loving furniture, and thus the pain of losing it, but those people are insensitive. Like me.


            Yesterday I overheard Kim’s saying to a friend, “I know they are just things, but they have significance. They are part of me . . ..” Yes, it’s an expression of her loving connection to the world.


1 comment:

  1. Having done this twice, I know how hard it is. These things have become an expression of who you are. But also, I have to say, I felt much lighter after a while. A good feeling.