Dan hated it when I called him a hoarder, but he had this thing about keeping EVERYTHING. (Buy me a drink and I’ll tell you a story about a box of rocks, enough baseball mitts to field a team, and every letter his mom and grandma ever sent him). As I was downsizing, lots of stuff went in the trash. Lots of stuff got donated. Lots of stuff had to be shredded (FYI the shred company will come to your house for a fee saving you a trip). Everything left over went in an estate sale.  But it’s really hard to filter through a lifetime of someone else’s treasures. How do you get past the gut instinct to keep every little thing as if he was going to come back and be mad at you for getting rid of it? How do you honor their memory and treasured items without living in a museum of the dearly departed? Seriously, I’m asking because I want to know. Despite all the work to downsize, I have boxes and boxes of his stuff in the garage of my new fresh start house.

One of my W friends shared what she did. All of her husband’s clothes got piled in the guest room. She kept the things she wanted, then had their son pick out what he wanted. After that, his friends were invited to come by and pick out what they wanted. Whatever was left over was donated to a local charity. Genius! I immediately did the same thing. I was sometimes surprised by what Dan’s friends wanted to keep as mementos, but glad I let them choose what was meaningful to them. Everything else got donated without a shred of guilt. And in case you were wondering, watching crusty old Veterans crying as they picked through their dead buddy’s stuff was hard so I mostly hid out in the other room while they were looking.

Since we’d started a memorial scholarship in his honor, anything with monetary value that wasn’t a family heirloom was sold to fund the award. Guilt free. And thanks to Evel Knievel dolls action figures, his coin collection, Star Wars trading cards, his World War II Paratrooper rifle and a bunch of other junk stuff that will soon be sold, some kid is going to get to go to college. Who needs a museum with a legacy like that?

Tune in next week for what’s up with the ginormous funeral photos?