Bushwhacked: Memories stir amid clutter

MOVING house CAN be a positive experience.

I say CAN, because I am absolutely certain there are less cheerful experiences along the way, especially when you’ve lived in one spot for many years, raised a family there and become the person you are now there.

For example, all those years when the kids were giving me cute hand-made Father’s Day and birthday cards, and gifts which look very much like a chunk of sandstone wrapped in red cellophane, and cotton wool balls with eyes stuck on them, are coming back to haunt me.

Why couldn’t I just toss them out a week or so later when the kids had clearly forgotten them? 

And why do I still sit on the study floor, looking at them, still uncertain how I’ll put them reverently in the wheelie bin?

The simple fact is that you can’t live with all the stuff you accumulate in a hectic family home for that long. It becomes something other than a cheerful (even tearful) memory. It becomes stuff, and it clogs your life like fat in the arteries. 

After years, it becomes a sludgy sea anchor, dragging you to a dead stop.

Is it just me, or do other blokes suffer the long-term fall out of being a human magpie, collecting all the shiny but inconsequential chunks of life? In the top drawer of my bedside cabinet – a place I have not delved into for some time – I found a black painted matchbox with the words on top: “Open in case of emergency”. 

In it was a cotton wool ball, a little red plastic heart and a loving note from a daughter who must have been about six at the time.

There was a rock with eyes glued on it, a plaster dinosaur painted red and green with sparkles stuck on it. 

A “handy” box made out of ice-cream sticks. A green plastic motorcycle from a silly Christmas bonbon.

In the study there’s a very happy looking pottery dog with clay spiked collar and even a genuine bum. It’s next to the jar covered with torn bits of blue paper which has long acted as a pen jar, and the MCG beer coasters proudly brought home from a primary school excursion to Melbourne.

Baubles from a time long ago burst from every hidden nook and cranny, and I wonder how I will ever be able to move on from this.

Talking about it with the kids recently, they gave me permission to jettison this stuff with the very wise advice that having the memory of something was more important than having the thing itself.

I know that’s true, but I feel like a cad physically putting this stuff in the bin.

Mrs Whacked seems to be stronger than I am. I found an old photo album from her nursing days in the bin. It contains pictures of deliriously happy young women, not much more than teenagers, holidaying in Queensland.  I’ll retrieve it when she’s not looking.

The young Corgi (the one NOT named Schappelle!) is helping by chewing everything and converting it into things we can just about ditch.

So, what’s positive about all this?

Finding these things again and remembering how they came into our lives.

I’m discovering the memories are still bright and crisp, so I don’t need the physical objects any more.

It’s liberating.

Mind you, we’re never doing this again.

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