“Anything you cannot relinquish when it has outlived its usefulness possesses you, and in this materialistic age, a great many of us are possessed by our possessions.” Peace Pilgrim
I claimed her fourteen years ago, after my great-grandmother passed away. The family had gathered in Elda’s small, yellow house in Iron Mountain, MI to sort through her belongings. As the newest married couple, Dave and I unexpectedly inherited her bedroom set, since everyone else already had one. But there were so many treasures in Elda’s home. An immigrant from Italy, she lived a long life and possessed a lifetime of memories in the form of artifacts which filled her home. She also knew exactly who should receive each one. Whether priceless antiques or common household items, Elda had labeled the back or bottom of nearly everything she owned with the name of its future owner. It certainly made sorting things a lot simpler . . .
Except in the case of this beautiful, handcrafted, Italian figurine. Elda had bequeathed it to my uncle’s now ex-wife. A single dad with two, young sons, certainly my uncle wouldn’t want such a feminine piece of art, but oh, I did! I fell in love with her instantly and bided my time, waiting for the right opportunity to ask if I might have her, knowing that my bid could easily be lost to either my mother or one of my aunts. What a glorious moment of relief and joy when she became mine! My husband affectionately named her Ave Maria, and she became my prized possession for many years . . . until she wasn’t anymore.
One child, followed by another, and another, and another, and yes, one more, entered our lives. With more, curious, little hands reaching across all the surfaces of our home, Ave Maria had to go into hiding or risk certain destruction. She has remained there for several years now.
Recently, I took her to the local consignment store, in hopes that it would be easier to part with her if she was worth something. However, over the years, she has suffered two small chips, and her value is now negligible, except to me. I still loved her, but I knew it was time to say goodbye.
So, after a few more weeks, I finally let her go today. I know it was the right choice; she should be cherished and displayed by someone who values her loveliness as I do. I am thankful I had her; she helped me to identify what I consider to be beautiful, and she reminded me of my great-grandma.
I still have my memories of Elda,though: the pint-sized, feisty, no-nonsense, big-hearted Italian woman who raised my wonderful grandfather and made the best homemade ravioli and chumbelone. And, I still have her silver tins for flour, sugar and tea (I also had one for coffee that I never used and finally gave away); I use them frequently for loving on my family with my freshly baked goods and for relaxing at the end of an especially trying day.
However, Ave Maria had served her purpose in my life, bringing me joy for a season, followed by guilt and regret that I could no longer enjoy her as I once did. Today, I freed both myself from the guilt of obligation (to an inanimate object!) and Ave Maria from a life of hiding. Now, she is sitting on a shelf at Goodwill, waiting for that special someone to give her the home she deserves where she will be displayed and enjoyed.
Arrivederci, Ave Maria! Grazie di cuore.
(Note: I referenced Marie Kondo because as I went through the process of letting Ave Maria go, I was able to recognize that she no longer brought me joy, I was able to be thankful for her contribution to my life, and I ultimately was able to free her to fulfill her purpose, which is to bring beauty into someone’s life. Finally, I was able to let her go. These are all tenets of Kondo’s book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up.)
Do you have something beautiful in your home that no longer brings you joy? Is it hiding in a box or shoved on the back of a shelf somewhere? Be thankful for the joy it once brought you, and free yourself from the obligation to hold on to it another day. I’d love to hear about it in the comments:)