I’ve gotten to that age where I’m going to a lot of funerals. 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 say, “What are we supposed to do with all of his stuff?” So I set out do a better job of weeding out.
Besides, the Japanese organizing consultant Marie Kondo has inspired a worldwide frenzy of de-cluttering. According to her book, you should put your hands on everything you own, ask yourself if it sparks joy, and if it doesn’t, it goes away. Then, you put every remaining item in a place where it’s visible and accessible. At that point, she says your home is full of joy, and you’ll never have to go through this again.
So, I started going through the drawers, boxes and closets that rarely get opened.
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 is always within reach. Yet, they somehow disappear when I actually need one. I mean, 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 ball parks throughout the south, so I’m always re-stocking. As for 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 cleaning out my car, and 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 2019, 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 see us collecting dust under the sofa?”
Meanwhile, my closets runneth over. Hanger upon hanger, slumping with coats and jackets from a couple of sizes ago.
Despite my wife’s objections, my well-worn, hole-ridden t-shirts aren’t going anywhere. They give me comfort, and yes, joy.
Then there’s the card drawer. I have all kinds of cards. Blockbuster, if you ever make a comeback, I still have my membership card. I also have spare credit cards, with expiration dates that say 08/1996.
After I’m gone, If my sons go through my medicine cabinet, they will surely wonder why there are pill bottles from Eckerd and Revco. This might make a good science experiment.
I should be ashamed of that big box full of VCR cables, 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.
Why have I kept all this unnecessary stuff, taking up so much space? It may date back to the family store. Every few years, the gas companies and the soft drink bottlers would replace their signs. Esso became Exxon, and we’d toss out the old sign. Dr. Pepper and RC would update their logo to a more modern style. The outdated signs went straight to the trash heap. How much would those signs be worth today? I really don’t want to know.
I guess I’ll hang on to my old stuff as long as I have room 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.
David Carroll, a Chattanooga news anchor, is the author of “Volunteer Bama Dawg,” a collection of his best stories. You may contact him at 900 Whitehall Road, Chattanooga, TN 37405 or firstname.lastname@example.org.