A few years ago, a distant relative died, leaving nobody near to her to clean out her home. My mother and I gamely volunteered to take on the project, and in retrospect I think we were both suffering from temporary insanity. Bless this woman for being a nice person and a good friend, but she did not own ONE thing worth passing on to posterity. Not one nice book, not a single beautiful piece of furniture, no lovely jewelry or vintage clothing – absolutely nothing!
What she did leave behind was a vast, almost impenetrable mess of cheap clothing, cheap dishes, cheap furniture, and mounds of unsorted paperwork. It wasn’t a question of not having enough money – I know for a fact that she could have afforded fewer, nicer things. But it was definitely a question of never feeling worthy of the one big, beautiful, enduringly precious item that could have brought joy to her every day.
So now, when I’m pondering a potential purchase, I remember her and the sad lack of heirlooms (or even just mementos) that she left behind. And I wonder, when I look at that sweater or dish or CD, if anybody will want this thing when I’m gone.