It's going to happen to you some day, so be prepared! "Let's downsize, or let's move to Florida, or let's move to the city."
So many things. So many years. So many memories. Where do you start? What do you keep? What do you throw? What do the kids want?
It sounded like a great idea, after having lived on Long Island for 50 years, and now that we have been retired for a few years and we spend our winters in Florida, why not have the best of both worlds and get an apartment in the city? After all, we go to Manhattan twice a week anyway to see our grandchildren and to enjoy the culture.
The big question remains: Can you easily downsize from 2,000 square feet to 1,000?
It's now time to test your values. Which are the most important possessions from three decades of travel? Which artwork will have to go, without sufficient wall space in the new apartment?
What about the 60 photo albums of travel experiences and family events that were lovingly organized before digital photography?
How do you go from nine closets, an attic and a garage to four closets and a small storage bin?
On the other hand, it may be time to clean out, after 20 plus years in the same house. The discoveries of treasures that you did not know existed, including artifacts from our parents' lives: old documents from the past -- a grandmother's citizenship papers; love letters your parents exchanged during World War II; engagement announcements, the eulogy you wrote when your favorite uncle died.
As my wife and I started to clean out the shelves and closets, tears began to wet our cheeks. Old family photos of our parents and grandparents; homemade cards received from our grandkids; a letter from a former student expressing how you had changed his life. The old Super 8 home movies that are not yet digitized -- how can we get rid of these incredible memories?
Who will carry on the history? Do our kids want anything? Will they cherish the same memories we do, or will they just say "yes" and later toss them?
Is it the furniture that you treasure or memories of sunsets on Great South Bay, picnics and concerts at Planting Fields, the incredible Long Island school districts where we taught?
Time to come to grips with your values. Throw much, save some, but most important, pass on the significant stories to your children and grandchildren.
A new phase is about to begin. Looking back is good, but going forward is more life affirming.
Still some sorting to do: first baby teeth, baby shoes and knitted sweaters, report cards from every grade, diplomas, comic book and baseball card collections, old 33 RPM records, and the list goes on and on.
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