There seems to be a little hoarder inside all of us, right? The kind of person that needs to save their first driver's license or love note, maybe a trinket here and there that evokes a memory. Everyone has tangible mementos that cause their stomach to twist a bit at the thought of throwing them away. When I got pregnant and I knew there was a wee one coming and that our guest room/storage room needed to be converted into a nursery, I sat down and went through closets and drawers and I threw away a lot of stuff. I managed to get all of my memories and those important things that span nearly 33 years of my life into a plastic storage tub from Target. It felt good to purge even if I felt a twinge of guilt throwing away the tattered carcass of my very first teddy bear who had long ago suffered water damage and lost all of his stuffing. I looked at the limp shell of his former self and thought "I'm never going to repair you" so I hugged him and tossed him. That's something I never thought I'd live to see myself do, yet here I've survived to tell the tale.
At the beginning of January my grandparents were supposed to go into a nursing home. We knew once they moved whatever few belongings they were taking with them out of the house, we'd still be left with a disaster to clean up. Both of them had shoes and clothing dating back to the 60s hanging in their closets that were apparently too good to throw away, a surplus of canned goods lines a wall in their garage and every nook and cranny in their 4-bedroom home was stuffed with belongings. It was a chore but one day, for several hours, we went through and packaged up most of their things to be sold and donated and thrown away (like food that been expired for years yet they'd been pulling to eat). One of the shining moments of that experience was coming across Elvis Presley commemorative dishes. I mean, who has those? The answer is "My Gran."
Today, I was faced with the chore of cleaning out my dad's office. He was nearly invisible behind the stacks of paper covering his desktop that had accumulated for years. Ever the pack rat, he had saved correspondence and samples from vendors to the point that his office was beginning to resemble a pig sty. I, being the ever-obsessive compulsive daughter, decided to rectify the situation. He has been struggling with his Parkinson's lately so I know that cleaning is very low on his list of priorities. Seeing as he is the owner of the company, I didn't feel as though his cluttered desk should reflect his cluttered mind. Today I spent several hours throwing things away and organizing his office so that when the day comes that he decides to retire, this looming task will no longer overwhelm him. He and I are both thrilled with the results and I think that the absence of the mess will put his mind at ease.
MORAL OF THAT STORY: There's nothing wrong with throwing things away. If not for yourself, do it for the people that will inevitably have to clean up after you once you're gone.