What is the best legacy you can leave to your family?
An empty attic. Paperwork in order. And no clutter.
And remember what William Morris said.
“If you want a golden rule that will fit everything, this is it: Have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful.”
This is nearly all the contents of my mom’s wardrobe. 5 bags of shoes. 2 Gloverall duffle coats. 3 Burberry macs, another 3 overcoats. I have bagged up 50 pairs of trousers and 40 tops and cardigans and maybe 50 dresses. There are bags inside bags, postcards from the 40’s sent by strangers. There are 80 years of photographs to go through.
I have to wash the clothes then decide what to do with them. In the meantime they are filling the floor of my dining room. I have her clutter in my house.
This is my promise to my children – you will have no clutter to deal with
I will walk around the house and look at what we have in the home.
I will open cupboards, go through my wardrobe, count how many shoes I have and recall the last time I wore them.
I will then imagine what it will be like for my lovely children to do this when they are in mourning .
I will consider what will they do with all this stuff, and think of the hard decisions they will have to make. The ones I am having to make now.
Then I will ask myself three questions.
Do I really need this? Do I love it? Do I use it?
I will share and enjoy what money I have now.
I will declutter.
I will donate or sell the clothes I don’t wear.
I will make a memory box with special photos and letters, and then be truly ruthless with everything else.
I will take books I have read to a charity shop, give some to friends and have some fun and become a Book Crosser.
I will start doing this now. After I have sorted my moms stuff. Just found 4 Viyella jackets and some more silk tops. The mountain is growing and my house is looking like a reality tv show where you have to move bags to walk across the room.
When mom died there was (and still is) so much to do and none of it is a pleasant task. Yet truly, the paperwork, the solicitors, insensitive bank staff and arranging the funeral was easier than the task I have ahead of me.
Update November 2015
Since writing this I have decluttered, sold the big house and bought a small house.
Still a way to go but getting there.
Addendum: February 2016.
I am now helping mother in law with similar decluttering tasks while she is ill in hospital.
I would add these to the best legacy you can leave your family: a recent will, a living power of attorney and a pre paid funeral.
Mom left me two of these, the will and the pre paid funeral. Made the awfulness of her death easier in many ways. A power of attorney was not needed, thankfully, yet it is something to be considered. Today.
Addendum April 2017
Still working on clearing the MIL’s house in Winchester. She passed away April 2016. The DH and I have spent several weekends clearing 80 years of accumulated clutter. It is exhausting and demoralising. However it has made us resolve to pare down our belongings. We sold and gave away much of the furniture we moved from big house to small house. Most of it was too big and does not fit our vision for an uncluttered, simple lifestyle. I saved money by not moving them to storage while we renovate the house.