I am blessed with siblings, a child, grandchildren, and dear friends, and into their caring hands I have often thought the dear detritus of my life might fall one day, finding a loving home. But as I age, so too do my brothers and friends, and it becomes clear that the younger generations of my family will be the caretakers of this imposing physical legacy.
This would all be well and good except my child has entirely different taste from mine, preferring a more streamlined and modern look to my quirky Merchant-Ivory style. (Or as a friend said once when he saw my cottage for the first time: "PBS called.... they want their sets back." Considering he worked as a propert master for the BBC, I realized there had to be some truth in this glib remark!)
And so I look around and wonder.... where will this all go? Will there will be thrift shops playing host to my china? Will the antiques I've acquired find themselves on a table at the rear of some dusty consignment shop? Will my books, hats and ephemera be featured on jumbled tables at a flea mart? (Perhaps this is how I'll finally be at the Brimfield Flea Market someday, albeit in absentia...) Or will my grandchildren feel as I did when my grandmothers died and want to preserve every doily, dish and mirror they can, not only as a memento of my life but of the times I lived in and the times (much further back than my own) that I admired?
How do you take a life and pack it up into boxes? What should be kept and what given away? Is there anyone who will care as deeply as she did about her pewter tankards, her old coal skuttle, her ginger jar lamp or her Halcyon boxes celebrating the births of Princes William and Henry.... or the one celebrating the short-lived marriage of their parents?
The irony of course is that whoever finds him—or her—self looking after my things some day will also be looking after my aunt's, since many of them reside with me, now. The last box has been unpacked and her dear things are safe once again, having somehow found their way into my own treasure trove of flotsam and jetsam.
Perhaps the simplest solution would be a codicil in my will addressed to the BBC property master: "They can have it all back, now."