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Writer's Daughter Gets a Big Surprise When She Learns She's Inherited Family 'Savings'
Question: Can a stuffer and a stacker live together harmoniously?
Several people have mentioned the column about our efforts to clean out our overstuffed house. Obviously, we're not alone. A friend who is a fellow "saver" wrote that the man she married is organized by nature. Finally, he reclaimed his pool table in the basement. For this to happen, she had to pull stuff out into the back yard, sort it into some semblance of order and then carry it back in.
Parents complain that their homes are full of their adult children's things. After her marriage, we got rid of packrat Vicki's stuff by using a crafty stratagem: I wrapped individually "objets d'art," trinkets, souvenirs, bric-a-brac and just plain junk that she'd saved since she was a little girl.
When she came for a visit, I dragged out a box and said, "Here are some surprises for you to take home." "Oh good! I love surprises!" She opened the box.
"Surprise!" I warbled as she unwrapped the velvet-covered statuette of a purple cow that her Grandmother Clarke gave her after going to Toronto that bore a tag saying, "I think I saw a purple cow, I never thought I'd see one." "Oh!" she said. I laughed merrily, but she wasn't amused. Her face became more and more sour with each item. Finally she snapped, "Mother, I've had enough of your surprises!"
During the current clearing out, I kept saying, "Vicki might want this." Bill finally said, "Vicki has enough stuff! She doesn't need any more!"
Old bank statements and users' manuals have no emotional significance. However, we have saved objects that are more than "things" -- they represent memories and experiences. As we dug into the boxes, we delved deep into our pool of memories and the life that we have shared: souvenirs, menus, travel brochures, ticket stubs, the cigarette case that sister-in-law, Esther, gave me, opera and theater programs, a bag of matches that Bill had collected during our trips, little bars of hotel soap, instructions from a Family Circle magazine that Vicki used to make a bouquet of vegetable flowers for a party, airline passes, two fake silver goblets out of which we drank sparkling Burgundy during our two-night "honeymoon" at the King's Crown Inn in Kokomo that Bill's brother, Lex, and Sally gave us as a wedding gift.
"Aw -- here's the little pair of red shoes that Vicki had when she was just a little thing." "Remember that lunch we had at Antoine's in New Orleans?" "My goodness, here are some S & H Green Stamps and Top Value Stamps." That brought thoughts of my mother who gave us Green Stamps that we used to get a picnic basket that went on many picnics and camping trips with us. "Should we throw away this hatchet decoration from the Fireman's Ball?" We used to go to the Fireman's Ball ("Brawl") in Plymouth with Bill's family. "Yes," Bill said. However, I see that it's hanging on the wall in the back closet. There was a tee shirt with the logo "Where's the Beef?" saved from a "Clarke" party when a bunch of Bill's family spent the weekend of qualifications. Forgotten treasures turned up. "Oh, look! Here's the little coat that Mrs. Morgan made for me. I never knew Mrs. Morgan from Rushville where I was born, but a faint essence of her lives on. I shall press and display the coat, my baby dress and petticoat.
Next, came a huge stack of recipes. We both love to cook and eat, and we save recipes that we'll never cook if we live to be a hundred. As I went through the conglomeration of clippings, scrawled notes taken while watching the likes of Paula Dean, newspapers and magazines, I came across treasures that I had thought were lost. I found my little fondue cookbook and a book of candy recipes, including my favorite million dollar fudge recipe. I found handwritten recipes sent by Sister Christine, Bill's mother, Sisters-in-law Toots and Pat and our friend, Phyllis - all gone, alas. "Mother," I said, stroking the recipe for Mama's Corn Pudding that she had written so long ago. …
The "saving" gene lives on! Vicki has consented to take a bunch of stuff, including two battered lamps -- one of which I broke and glued back together. One was won at a fair by Bill's sister, Joyce, the other by Pat. Also, Vicki dear, Mother has found some more surprises for you!
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