Until now, I have tended to be a hoarder. Street sales, charity shop sales, jumble sales and just sales generally have fed that particular urge that I have to find things that please me at a good price. It is, however, a rare day that I will buy something with the view to reselling it for profit as some do. Just recently, two events brought home the futility of accumulating objects over the years. The first was the death of my unmarried, childless aunt in London, England. She left her large Victorian house full of clothes and shoes that she hadn’t worn in years, as well as papers, magazines, utensils and objects, some left from when her mother, my grandmother, had died. Worn furniture was side-by-side with hundreds of books, stacked on shelves or in piles. She was an avid reader and would re-read books, so always had them to hand. The cellar was chock-a-block with tools, boxes, cables, small appliances and other sundry items she hadn’t known what to do with, thinking they might serve at some time. There was even coal left in a bunker from the time before legislation banned coal fires.
The larger the accommodation, the more scope one has for accumulating objects.
The second event was the recent purchase of a house in France by one of my daughters and her husband.
It is a house that was built in the fifties and judging from the interior, it has only had one set of owners. The place has remained as it was when it was built with the original wallpaper, glass overhead lightshades and Bakelite light switches. All the rooms have antiquated power supplies; electrical wires encased in cloth sleeves rather than plastic. The old furniture, which might date from before WWII, is all that remains as the other accessories to life, useful or decorative, were cleared for the sale of the property.
Whether one likes the old-fashioned feel of the house or not, it is surprisingly pleasant with lots of windows providing light all day long whichever way the sun shines.
My daughter liked the retro-style of the large kitchen with the Formica table and cabinets, so asked the realtor if they could be left behind. The family member selling the house communicated that he would leave everything behind, if she agreed.
By ‘everything,’ he meant the beds and wardrobes in the three bedrooms and all the overhead nineteen-fifties light fixtures. He meant the kitchen furniture and the dining room table, chairs, dresser and leather couch; all vintage and solid.
Both instances have left me feeling sad for the departed people.
The objects they left behind that were so familiar to them have no real significance for anyone else. They’re only unfashionable objects to dump or to give away without a second thought.
Does this mean that I will now be buying less in sales?
These two recent events have somehow affected me. As a result, it also means that if I have something which pleases someone else, I will give it to them rather than hoard it ’til my dying day, when it will be dumped.
In respect for those departed souls, my only wish now is that they would approve of the new owners of their homes, the homes where they each lived and breathed for more than fifty years – a lifetime.
The places will be remodelled, no doubt, but it would please me that the new owners give a thought to those who came before them as they strip the wallpaper from the walls…