Not been blogging because I have been picking up every conceivable opportunity 2016 throws up. Whilst part of me craves solitude, calm and time to reflect, my doppelganger seems to be running the show – plugging me into everything from online study (3 courses on the go at present) to travel, by way of theatre, fine art, friends, family, music, gardening (and oh yes…the doo-wop dolls).
If I thought I was cramming it in…I am but a lightweight. Today we, as a family, went to my recently deceased aunt’s house. We knew there was clutter, we knew there was paperwork but, thankfully, because we were together we could laugh and roll out the black bags. Absolutely everything…really…everything, from junk mail to pencil sharpeners was labelled and dated…date in, cost and place of purchase to date used…yes..a drawer of very neatly packed toothpaste boxes marked rather like a headstone with date of birth, date of death and an epitaph. There were dozens of these boxes and 23 of boxes of plasters (unused) going back to 2007…I (for a brief moment) wondered why you would buy more when you were filing them in date order and could see that even an emergency department could not use that many plasters in a year…but if I started to even mouth the word logic I was going to be a goner…so it was zipped lips (until now).
Every book (and there are many) has its own unique reference number – one of the books I have taken is “called” 020-8445 9975 which is neither the ISBN nor the Dewey Decimal system…maybe it will take me my lifetime to figure this out or maybe I will just look at it when I open the pages and smile as I remember her and this mystery.
Every cupboard, drawer, surface in the house is crammed yet nothing within them is visible, everything is packed in bags within bags and labelled in detail. There seems to be a classification code for which label to use for which type of product and a drawerful of labelling possibilities – colours, sizes, shapes galore.
It gives me pause for thought of what it looks like we leave behind, to others. Do our leftovers define who were were? Beyond this OCD and hoarding was an independent career woman who carved herself out a great life following any and every opportunity with grit and determination. She bought her own London flat as a single woman, long, long before this was commonplace. She was cultured..spoke Italian, lived in Italy, adored fine art, theatre, the opera and literature, good food and wine, travel and above all else she loved us. Amidst the incredible chaos, we were all there, we were everywhere – photos of us and our children at every stage of life, gifts we had given her and an overwhelming sense of what was for her, the absolute bottom line – family was THE most important and treasured thing.
and that feels, to me a fine thing to hold in my heart.