Our parents live in the things possessed years after they left us and making a dichotomy of sort in the choices made to keep them alive. The personal belongings and how we hold on to them long after they are gone make the memories vivid in a tale of going back in time. I read an article where the author often battles out emotions vs practicality side of things in holding on to the past, maybe. It can be anything, an old pair of shoes, ring, letters, old diaries and anything mundane things like trousers or shirts.
It’s been a decade since Dad passed away during the winter of 2007 and I was in India at that time. Years passed. Like many, I was reluctant to discard things bought obstinately by Dad, the old shirts and trousers, pullover, belt or shoes but with time, the practical me adheres to this old Amitabh Bachchan Binani cement, “Maa Baap Kahin nahin jaate.”
While it makes perfect emotional sense to keep few things in the house, chucking out things accumulating over years and the entire de-clutter of emotions make us secure as sentient beings filled with love. Things keep piling over the years and gathering dust which prevents the free flow of energy inside our hearts. I am more sorted in discarding Dad things. It signifies growth and a true sense of self-esteem and worth.
After all, Dad made two shelves, one for the Gods and Goddesses standing tall and the second for books, making him alive the moment I wake up every morning. The table and sofa set, old radio, VCD-my surprise gift or the suit he made for me the time I was pursuing my graduation shows he is alive in my veins and soul. I still wear the black blazer for corporate events. It’s as good as new.
Throwing away old stuff is an indication is that we have made peace with the past. Death is always a painful incident when we lose a parent but it whittles down to the choices made, about coming to terms with reality and the willingness in moving ahead with life while the past, memories remains a beautiful aspect of growing up in giving us an identity. One doesn’t forget the roots yet moving ahead with or without things we obstinately hold on lends a sense of individuality in the choices made.
I think that it’s very important to declutter with the old things we tend to hold on rather obstinately and we should embrace change in a more open manner. Old clothes or shoes in good conditions can be donated and it got nothing to do with the memory of the deceased. A friend whose mother passed away last year gifted her handbag and new shoes to Mom, owing to the fact that both were close friends. Peace can be made in the way we choose to and that way love and grief to a certain extent are shared, much in the same fashion as relationships.
By choosing to wear the shoes of aunty and holding her handbag, Mom is keeping her alive so are strangers, the homeless and the deprived whose lives are touched by sharing joy in the form of clothes distributed. How beautiful that a nameless and dead soul is spreading love. Isn’t an expression of being alive after the flesh and bones are buried?
This is the power of love and we spread the vibes to heal souls. Perhaps, we don’t realize the blessing we receive through such gratitude showered by our parents as we not only carry the legacy forward but be a part of them making difference to the lives of less fortunate souls. Holding on to stuff unreasonably can create emotional turmoil and which is often block our expression of love.
Over the years, I have realized that acceptance matters a lot and the first steps involved in giving to the needy or in some cases throwing them away. There are things that I still keep such as birthday cards and handwritten or small chits sent by Dad for me. Writing is an art form and outpouring of emotions that make the person alive. The words convey love and sentimentality making the person alive in more ways than old clothes can be. Excess sentimentality can hold us back but what matters is coming to terms of the joy given by parents which reside inside the heart and soul forever. It can be painful to get rid of things but let go of such things has never been easy right but once the first step is taken, we rise in love above bondage for true emotions or happiness shared may not reside in the belongings.